• Leonna Mayor’s first winner was on a horse called Colinca’s Lad at Yarmouth.

  • Lydia Hislop lists Lie Forrit, Taws, Djakadam, Topofthegame as her all time favourites.

  • Nick Luck is a committee member at Aintree, the home of the Grand National.


Probably due to horse racing’s close association with gambling and horse racing odds in general, you often find that its presenters are either loved or loathed by the viewing public as a whole.

If they publically side with your selection and it wins then they are a hero, if it loses then they’re clueless. Put this cycle of behaviour on a constant loop and that’s horseracing presenting/punditry for you in a nutshell.

Best Horse Racing Pundits:

Horse Racing Tips

Of course it’s all unwarranted criticism at the end of the day when all these people are trying to do is go about their daily profession. A little bit more respect for them wouldn’t go amiss.

Here are some of our favourite horse racing presenters/pundits, both past and present:

Nick Luck

Whilst many members of the horseracing media were being furloughed and put out to the long grass in 2020, Nick Luck’s telephone was ringing off the hook with new job offers.

This of course was testament to the fact that in the new streamlined racing media world, bosses wanted one of its most recognisable faces to be at their helm.

The seven-time HWPA Broadcaster of the Year signed for a major bookmaker early in 2020 as their new flat racing expert as well as taking on several other projects.

Nick is an integral part of Racing TV and NBC Sports’ television coverage. He has been at Racing TV since its initial launch in 2004.

Ruby Walsh

12-time Irish champion jump jockey Ruby Walsh comes over as being a veteran of the broadcasting world even though he only hung up his racing boots in 2019.

In 2010, horse racing broadcaster Racing UK signed a 30-year-old Ruby Walsh as their channel ambassador and he has effectively never left!

After riding 2,756 career winners (59 at the Cheltenham Festival) Ruby now fills his time with a host of media commitments including punditry for Racing TV, the Irish broadcaster RTE and several other outlets.

You’ll also see him giving out all the latest Cheltenham racing odds when the Festival is taking place.

John McCririck

Sadly no longer with us after passing away in 2019, John McCririck was the “punters champion” for many a long year through his media work.

Famously known for standing in the betting ring (the “jungle”) and bringing Channel 4 Racing viewers all the latest horse racing odds, John’s sports broadcasting career on television spanned four decades.

In 1984 when Channel 4 took over TV’s terrestrial racing coverage, John went on to become the most recognisable character on Channel 4 Racing for 29 years.

Appearances on Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap brought John notoriety among the wider general public, but it was his famous on-screen tussle with Barney Curley in 2005 that most racing fans remember.

Lydia Hislop

Lydia was a long-standing columnist for the Times and London’s Evening Standard before she became a pundit and presenter on Racing UK when it launched in 2004.

Now rebranded as Racing TV, Lydia sees her role on the channel as working on behalf of the curious fan. She regularly conveys to the viewers what’s going on at a racecourse, what’s just happened and might happen in the future. It’s the perfect watch!

Lydia also has other racing related interests. After sitting on the BHA Flat Pattern Committee for 16 years, Lydia now chairs that grouping.

Laurent Barbarin

Laurent Barbarin is a regular face on Sky Sports Racing and covers all the French action on the channel.

His journey through horse racing has taken him all over the world from his home in France. After spells in France and Ireland learning how to train horses, Laurent joined Godolphin and worked there for seven years.

Small training jobs in Kentucky and Japan followed until Laurent returned to France to become a racing consultant. A presenting/pundit role with Equidia ensued before Sky snapped him up in January 2019.

Laurent is the perfect French horse racing betting guide for any new follower of the sport in France.

Angus Loughran

Although no longer a racing pundit in any official capacity, Angus was a very good one when he worked for the BBC as their “betting expert” for a period of 12 years.

In what I have always regarded as Angus’ pièce de résistance, the famous odds man presented a Grand National preview programme on BBC2 on the eve of the 2020 race in which he gave a good nod and wink to the viewers for the Ted Walsh-trained/Ruby Walsh-ridden Papillon.

The morning after there was a massive plunge on the Irish horse and it duly obliged later that afternoon with Angus saying afterwards “The whisper started to go round last night and just snowballed. It is one of the biggest-ever gambles in a major sporting event."

After fatefully ending up in the same cab as Angus heading to Aintree a few years ago, I managed to thank him for that year 2000 heads up in person.

Leonna Mayor

Since quitting the saddle Leonna has carved out a new career for herself on the small screen. The former Flat rider is enjoying roles on WHTV, Sky Sports Racing and fairly recently, ITV Racing.

As an Australian contemporary recently wrote in the Herald Sun “English jockey Leonna Mayor is on fire after making the switch from the saddle to a television studio in a boom time for women in racing”. He’s not far wrong.

Rishi Persad

Rishi began his racing broadcasting career in 2002 when Attheraces was first launched.

Since then he was worked for Racing TV, Channel 4, and the BBC in a racing capacity and has covered a whole host of events including The Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe, The Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, Derby Festival and Royal Ascot.

The Olympics, Commonwealth Games, tennis, bowls, cricket and golf, Rishi has turned his hand to presenting them all. He’s a great all-rounder.

Mick Fitzgerald

Mick is currently a pundit on ITV’s horse racing coverage and he cut out his new role in the horse racing sports media after being forced into retirement in 2008 aged 38.

He also reports for Sky Sports Racing is still closely involved in racing through the management of several ownership syndicates.

Mick’s crowning glories were winning the Grand National aboard Rough Quest and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on See More Business.

Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson, or 'Tommo', is one of the most recognisable voices and faces in the horse racing media with more than half a century of experience behind him. He’s one of the old school horse racing commentators for sure.

After initially working as a presenter for both ITV and Channel 4 in the 1980’s, the veteran performer is still a studio anchor on Sky Sports Racing as well as him doing some radio work for the BBC and Talksport.

Catchphrases such as “Photoooooooo” and “Are you well? – I thought you were!” have given Derek plenty of notoriety with the youth element in recent years.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to Paul Ellis / AP Photo*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 8th February 2021

About the Author
By
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 25 renewals of the Grand National.