THE IMPACT of racing in Hexham and the surrounding area has been celebrated on its 130th anniversary.

The racecourse’s long success has been pinpointed to the determination and foresight of founder Charles William Chipchase Henderson.

In the late 1880s, the only notable steeplechasing in the area was at Rothbury and Newcastle. However, that soon changed thanks to the investment and enthusiasm of the North-East businessman.

Mr Henderson was described as throwing his heart and soul into Hexham Racecourse together with a substantial amount of his own money so that the course was ready for racing in April 1890.

The first known results from a Hexham meeting held on Wednesday, April 23 1890 record a six race card, which attracted a total of 31 runners.

In 1907, Mr Henderson bought the racecourse land and made further improvements, which included planting the unique copper beech hedge wings which remain today.

Racing at Hexham survived the First and Second World Wars, flourishing in the 1930s when substantial improvements and additions were made to the quality of the unique course.

In 1990, Major Charles Enderby took over the running of the racecourse and led the team until 2016, focusing his attentions on ensuring its future for generations to come.

In 2016, Hexham Racecourse was bought by Hexham and Northern Marts. Being local, the mart is passionate in continuing to develop the racecourse as a first-class venue for regular race-goers and visitors to Hexham, benefitting the economy of the local community.

Current manager of the racecourse, Robert Whitelock, said the track provides a “true test” for horses and jockeys.

He said: “Every racecourse is unique but the location and stunning views have hardly changed in the 130 years.”

“The biggest attribute the course has is its natural amphitheatre setting.”

Hexham-born race-caller, and TV presenter for Sky Sports Racing, John Blance said: “Seminal moments in my racing life happened at Hexham.

“My first trip to a race meeting, aged four, to see a horse called Bush Guide, who was a a local celebrity having run in that season’s Grand National; my first bet with my own money and, latterly, getting the chance to look across the course from the commentary box, with the glorious views of the shire in the background, preparing the call for the upcoming race.”