horse racing

NTF Q&A – Richard Hoiles


Name – Richard Hoiles

OccupationBroadcaster and Commentator

Years involved in racing1992-Present Day

First horseracing memory The Pilgarlic plodding on for a place in numerous Grand Nationals




What first stirred your interest in horseracing?

Actually going and standing by the open ditch at Plumpton when I was about seven. I couldn’t believe the speed and the distance jumped compared to what had previously seemed like dots on a T.V.

How did you become involved in the commentary side of horseracing?

I answered an Ad in the Sporting Life. I had no previous broadcast experience and was so naive I didn’t even realise you had to send in a demo tape. Fortunately when I did realise it crossed in the post with my rejection letter and the tape was thought decent enough to get to the next stage and it went from there.


Career to date…..


Proudest moment of career to date?

My Mum (sadly no longer with us) coming out to Hong Kong on International Races Day in 1997 and seeing me front the telecast.

Which race that you personally commentated on stands out in your memory and why?

Denman’s defeat of Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. It was a performance of raw power and I think very few horses in history could have beaten them that day.

Which race to you wish you could relive and commentate on again (good or bad)?

This year’s Victoria Cup when in a careless moment I muddled up Horseradish and Hawkeyethenoo for long enough for it to be obvious to all.


In the commentary box…..


Most enjoyable aspect of being a commentator?

The opportunity to be the first to describe a race and to be part of those present’s experience of it.

How much ‘homework’ do you undertake before each meeting?

A reasonable amount of background work so I know it is there if I need it but I won’t learn the colours until they go to post.

Best and worst tracks from a commentary perspective?

That is entirely down to the commentary positions. Some like Goodwood and Ascot are excellent, others like Kelso and Perth are far too low down to enable you to be accurate.


Wish list…..


Which race do you wish you had been given the opportunity to commentate on?

Desert Orchid v Pegwell Bay Gainsborough Chase at Sandown.

Which other sporting event do you wish you had been in the commentary box for?

The Ashes victory over Australia in 2005.

Which other sporting event would you like to have the opportunity to commentate on?

Any cricket match.


Racing and the general public…..


In your opinion what could be done to attract new fans to the sport?

Treat them like adults. Racing is far more challenging than any quiz show yet plays second fiddle to Countdown in the Channel 4 schedules. Explain what it is that the likes of Michael Owen, Mike Atherton, Richie Benaud and Michael Holding all find so compelling about our sport.

Do you think Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, etc…) has had a positive impact on racing and how else do you think it could be used to further promote the sport?

Well it has got me doing this Q and A for a start ! Anything that improves communication and understanding between participants and followers has to be good in breaking down the barriers in any sport.


Improving the sport…..


What one thing would you like to see implemented to improve horse racing –

a)      on-course?

Extension of funding for the excellent BHEST scheme which encourages school children to attend race meetings as part of the education process. Involvement and participation at a young age is crucial.

b)      off-course?

Appointment of a race day controller to ensure races do not clash whatever the circumstances. The impact on turnover is colossal and in the current financial climate unforgivable.


The Cheltenham Festival…..


Is there too much emphasis placed on the Cheltenham Festival and do you think it is starting to devalue the rest of the National Hunt calendar?

Personally no, as whilst it was disappointing to see many top NH horses infrequently last season in general those who had run regularly often performed better. Hopefully the lessons will have been learnt this time around.

Would a 5th day at the festival strengthen the meeting or weaken it?

In any sport the pyramid at the top is only so wide and hence a 5th day and more races would by definition weaken it.


Horses to follow…..


Which 2yo from this season should we look out for in 2012?

Bronterre impressed me greatly at Goodwood.

Which National Hunt horse are you looking forward to following in the 2011/12 season?

Banjaxed Girl who will hopefully be going novice chasing and has Mares races at her mercy.

Dark horse to follow for the 2011/12 NH season?

Shootin The Breeze. Caught my eye at Newbury on debut and is now handicapped. Not mentioned by David Pipe in his interview with Mark Howard in the excellent One Jump Ahead !!




Cheltenham Gold Cup or Epsom Derby?

Gold Cup. Jumping man at heart.

A P McCoy or Ryan Moore?

A.P McCoy, his achievements will never be beaten.

Big Mac or Tanya?

Tanya. On hygiene alone.

5 runner Novice Chase or 35 runner 5f sprint (to call)?

35 runner sprint. Best not to give a commentator too much thinking time.


Just for fun…..


If you could have any superpower what would it be?

To become invisible!



Many thanks to Richard Hoiles for agreeing to take part in the first ever NTF Q&A session.

Ben (NTF)








7 responses to “NTF Q&A – Richard Hoiles”

  1. Treat them like adults. Racing is far more challenging than any quiz show yet plays second fiddle to Countdown in the Channel 4 schedules. Explain what it is that the likes of Michael Owen, Mike Atherton, Richie Benaud and Michael Holding all find so compelling about our sport.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    If only such views had wider currency in the racing world. Unfortunately, there’s a miasma of Kauto or Denman scarves, unwanted Ladies Days and wanting to be leader of ‘Planet Now’ adoption of twit social media offerings by Racing’s marketing peeps to get out of the way, before such common sense can register.

  2. No suprise to see the 1st interview with Richard Hoiles who is such a great public figure for racing (NH especialy.) I’ve said this before but i think racing broadcasters are in a league of their own from other sports media. Cracking interview.
    Personaly, if i were to improve the sport, i would remove any mention of betting on saturday afternoon channel 4 racing. Its fine on the morning line, and its 100% fine on the dedicated racing channels, but i remember as a kid watching racing on BBC etc and thinking what is the point of it all.

  3. Richard is one hell of a commentator and I value his input -great to have a chap who is in love with the game (though the bit about becoming invisible is a worry!)
    have noted his animals to follow thanks for the Q and A


  4. I would just like to say,How much I enjoy your Commentary..As far as Im concerned your the NUMBER1COMMENTATOR..Great Q&A and I dont know abt calling a Cricket match but Horse Racing YES SIR for sure..#RESPECT..

  5. I’d just like to echo the comments about Richard, an excellent commentator and communicator who does treat viewers with respect and as adults by not screaming at us or stating the obvious. Even when I lost out on the Victoria Cup I admired Richard’s bottle and grace in apologising for what was a rare and genuine error.
    Thanks Richard and Ben

  6. Pretty darn good for your first attempt Ben. Could you possibly have chosen a better person to interview, I dont think so. The man is politeness personified.Always answers any question and more thoroughly than most.
    Great start for your new web site, well done!

  7. Great piece of work with one of a special breed of sports commentators. Quick example of Richard’s brilliance ? Three out in the Gold Cup 2011 his line “a who’s who of Gold Cup history” will always send a tingle up my spine and I suspect all who love the jumping game will always feel the same. In the moment his words encapsulate perfectly our love of top class steeplechasing, it’s history and drama. Well done !!

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