Willie Carson signed-off BBC horse racing today as the corporation broadcast its final flat racing event.
Channel Four secured exclusive rights to all terrestrial horse racing coverage in a four-year deal from 2013, including the Grand National, the Derby and Royal Ascot, which all previously aired on the BBC.
Carson, the winner of 3,828 races, 17 British Classics and five jockey championships, recently joked: “The head of BBC sport and the racing fraternity should both get their hands rapped over this. The two of them should have been put in jail.”
He added: “I don’t think the BBC will ever come back. Racing should have thought of that and not just gone for the extra quid.
“They should have thought of the long-term future of horseracing. I don’t think they took that on board. Channel 4 is a very good racing programme, but it is for a minority. BBC went to a bigger audience and would get more people involved in racing than Channel 4 ever will.
“Those annoying bookmaker adverts every 10 minutes put people off. The rhythm of the programme gets absolutely crucified. They kill the whole programme.”
His co-host, Clare Balding, will join Channel 4 Racing in 2013, after she has presented the Welsh National for the BBC on 27 December 2012.
The corporation is in the process of reducing its sports budget by 15%, as a result of the freeze to the licence fee and the transfer of the BBC World Service budget to the licence fee from April 2014.
Willie Carson’s best bits..