BBC Radio 5 Live has broadcast an hour-long special featuring Cornelius Lysaght, who’s leaving the corporation this week after almost 30 years.
In the programme presented by Steve Crossman, the BBC racing correspondent picked his 10 favourite moments from horse racing over the last three decades – and was joined by BBC Radio horse racing commentator John Hunt to talk through the highlights.
“Since I started in August 1990, the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot have been staged 29 times each and there have been 28 Grand Nationals and 146 Classic races – and that’s just in Britain,” he wrote on the BBC Sport website.
“In all – and thank you, British Horseracing Authority stats department for this – there have been nearly 40,000 fixtures and, it’s estimated, around 257,000 races, hundreds of which have their own outstanding story to tell. So, of course I salute extraordinary figures like Desert Orchid and Istabraq, and prolific trainers like Martin Pipe, Mark Johnston and Aidan O’Brien, plus many more regular headline-makers who aren’t in here, but inevitably a certain degree of ruthlessness has to be employed in compiling this list – these are 10 stories, unordered, that mean a lot.”
Cornelius joined the BBC to present the morning racing bulletins on the new Radio 5, which later became 5 Live. During his time with the BBC he has won a number of awards, including leading the racing team to a win at the 2003 Sonys for coverage of the Cheltenham Festival.
In an interview with the Daily Mail last month he said: “Whatever people’s views or my views of the BBC are, it is the outstanding broadcasting organisation in the world. I’ve worked really hard, been very loyal to the BBC. I have had masses out of them but I also feel they have had masses out of me. I was one of the bright young things 30 years ago when there were also changes. Some people who were around then were a bit disappointed. I’ve been working for 39 years overall, even though I’m only 55. It’s exceptionally sad for us and personally I think it’s sad for the BBC. There is nothing wrong with experience – I hope if it is good radio it doesn’t matter whether you are 20 or 90 years old. In my case I think it’s very sad for the sport because I believe that I have been a standard bearer for horse racing. Not a cheerleader because there’s a lot wrong with it, but I have made sure its story has been told, in a user-friendly way.”
Big reminder today that my @BBCSport party is nearly over (15 days to go as Racing Correspondent) when asked for 10 highlights from last nearly 30 years for a @bbc5live prog planned for before I go. Wow: I have a few thoughts but any ideas gratefully received (Aug 1990⏭) pic.twitter.com/uRDaYYjoHc
— Cornelius Lysaght (@CorneliusRacing) April 15, 2020