By Alan Coyle
This week has seen the announcement of a new four-year horse racing radio coverage deal. After losing the sport’s terrestrial television rights to Channel 4 last year, the BBC has a secured a new contract with Racecourse Media Group (RMG) until the end of 2016, which will allow it to broadcast live coverage from RMG’s tracks and of other major race meetings in Britain and overseas on it’s Five Live station.
John Inverdale and Cornelius Lysaght will still lead the coverage, with racecourse commentary from John Hunt and Luke Harvey as before, but listeners can also expect to hear from some new faces.
On top of regular voices Peter Scudamore, Kevin Day and Rob Nothman, jockey Andrew Thornton and Paralympic swimmer and broadcaster Kate Grey will be joining the line up. With the Cheltenham Festival just over two weeks away, former Channel 4 presenter Derek Thompson will also be involved, by replacing Clare Balding, who had previously acted as an on-course reporter there.
The sport’s fans can also look forward to live radio commentary from every race of the Cheltenham Festival for the first time. BBC Radio Five Live Xtra will be picking up the later races in the day but the increased radio coverage overall will mean more airtime for the sport of kings than in previous years. Text commentaries will also be available for every race from the Festival on the BBC Sport’s website.
Although many racing fans will be watching on course and at home, the BBC will continue to be the radio home of British horse racing. Mark Pougatch’s racing special: A Different Breed, broadcast earlier this month on BBC Radio Five Live, was an enjoyable listen for many and it will be interesting to see how the BBC’s radio coverage of the sport evolves in the future, in the wake of the loss of television pictures to it’s rival Channel 4.