BBC Horse Racing


The BBC has been commonly regarded as the UK’s one-stop destination for news about horse racing. In the early decades of the 20th century, the BBC radio’s sports service came to be most fans’ primary source for coverage of one of Britain’s favourite sports.

The BBC’s coverage of horse racing has declined in recent years. However, races such as the Grand National continue to attract considerable viewers and listeners, with more than 10 million people tuning in to listen to race coverage on a Saturday afternoon during the aforementioned sporting event. As one of the country’s most trusted news providers, it is of little surprise that many ardent fans have retained their loyalty to the BBC when it comes to obtaining the latest news from the world of horse racing.

History of the BBC’s Racing Coverage

Before the emergence of other large media organisations, the BBC was the principal provider of horse racing broadcasts in the United Kingdom. The importance of the BBC as a source of racing news has declined in recent years. However, the news agency still hosts a number of the sport’s key races including the Grand National and ever-popular Royal Ascot races.

Its audience figures have remained high, often reaching 10 million on the afternoons of key races. In 2001, the company regained the right to broadcast coverage of the Epsom Derby, which, until then, had been broadcast predominantly by ITV and Channel 4. However, the BBC no longer holds broadcast rights for the Cheltenham Festival and the Irish Derby, with rivals Channel 4 and At the Races taking over coverage of these events.

In 2007, the BBC halted its in-house racing coverage. Instead, commentary has now been outsourced to Sunset and Vine. This decision was not unique to horse-racing. For years now, other sports such as snooker have been subject to outsourced coverage and the BBC has a policy of either providing complete coverage of certain sports or else completely outsourcing commentary provision.

Under these circumstances, it is important that horseracing aficionados do not forget the contributions made by some of the media giant’s top racing presenters. A number of BBC commentators have gained fame for their excellent presentation of racing events. One of the most notable of these contributions has come from Peter O’Sullevan, who served as a presenter on BBC Sport for around 50 years

Racing Coverage

The BBC provides its horse racing coverage through a variety of sources.

BBC Racing on TV

Key Features

These days television is one of the main ways by which horse racing fans tune in to the BBC’s coverage of the sport. The BBC provides live coverage of many of the racing season’s key events and its racing broadcasts are known for their lively and well-articulated commentaries. Most racing coverage is provided by BBC One. Upcoming fixtures and broadcasting information may be found here.

The Low-down

The BBC is known for its high standards when it comes to the coverage of live sporting events and horse racing is no exception. Viewers should expect lively discussion and a well-structured show from a team of experienced racing presenters. However, be warned, racing coverage will not necessarily be available on the company ‘iplayer’ service, so you’re likely to have to catch the live broadcast and any subsequent repeats on television!

BBC Racing on the Radio

Key Features

Whether you like listening to the races on an old-fashioned radio, or simply enjoy tuning in via the Internet, the BBC’s radio coverage of the races is an excellent option if you don’t have the time for or access to a television.

As should be expected, regular racing updates are provided by BBC Sport during news broadcasts. However, if you want to obtain dedicated horse racing coverage, then BBC Five Live is the place to go. You can listen to the BBC’s radio coverage in a variety of ways. Here’s a quick guide to tuning-in.

The Low-down

So what do we make of the BBC’s radio coverage of horse racing? If you’re a keen follower of horse racing, then you’re likely to know when the key races are on. In this case you’ll find tuning into Five Live quick and easy.

However, if on the other hand, you’re unaware of when events are on, then you will need to navigate through the Five Live schedule which can be found here. At the moment, it appears that the BBC only provides schedules for the current week, which makes finding information about the coverage of future events a bit difficult. However, the page is well laid out and easily navigable.

The Five Live website also offers a great Messageboards feature. This is a great way to interact with other listeners and highly entertaining on occasion – definitely recommended. Bear in mind that all posts are moderated, so a degree of decorum must be exercised if one wishes to have posts published online!

BBC Horse Racing Online

Key Features

The BBC has recently undertaken a revamp of its website and its horse racing pages are no exception. However, if you’re a fan of the old format, do not fear! The aesthetic changes to the site are generally unobtrusive and easy to navigate.

The main racing story of the day may be found at the top of the page. This is often accompanied by a choice photograph of the story’s key players. Alongside the main article, one can find links to the day’s other top stories. This layout allows one rapid access to the most important racing stories. The set of links immediately below the day’s top story are particularly useful.

Among other features, you can find links to the latest racing results and the BBC Weather, which provides special coverage of the weather conditions for the day’s races. On the left hand side of the screen, you are provided with easy-access links to the latest UK and Ireland racing results.

However, the BBC website has more useful features on offer. If you haven’t had a chance to watch key racing highlights on the TV, it’s possible to catch some of them through the video feature as snippets of key moments may be downloaded or streamed off the BBC Sport website. Do be aware, however, that you need to have a high-speed Internet connection if you want to make use of this feature.

Below these links, one can find stories on other prominent racing stories. These general interest articles often focus on the many faces of horse racing. Expect to find pieces on everything from interviews with prominent jockeys to reviews of race-goers’ attire on Ladies’ Day! This section is followed by a large number of links to what the BBC has described as ‘Other News’ and ‘Internet Links’.

The BBC’s website is also home to a lively blog, written by the media company’s top racing presenters and pundits. It is sure to provide an interesting read and you can post comments (at the BBC’s discretion) if you so wish. The blog may be found here.

And finally, the BBC offers a very entertaining and educational guide to the ‘sport of kings’. It’s particularly great for younger fans of the sport. Let ‘Honest Frank’ guide you through the many muddlesome terms involved – from the complex sign-language or ‘tic-tac’ system employed by bookkeepers to determining how exactly you ought to interpret your racing card.

The Low-down

So what should we make of the BBC’s online racing coverage? The site is clear, concise and easily navigable. Graphics, have in general, been kept to a minimum. In any case, a low graphics version of the website is available should you desire. However, don’t forget to scroll down to the very bottom of the page if you’d like to make the most of the BBC’s racing coverage. Here, the BBC seems to have clumped together a large number of miscellaneous stories and links.

All in all, if you’re looking to find the latest news on the day’s top racing stories then the BBC’s racing website is certainly the place to stop. Remember, however, that it caters to all readers – from avid racing fans to those with only a cursory knowledge of the sport. So don’t expect anything overly technical!


It really shouldn’t come as a particular surprise that the BBC, one of the country’s oldest and most famous media organisations, offers such fantastic racing coverage. If you’d like easily accessible information on racing events, then the BBC is certainly the place to go.