IRC Q&A: Rishie Persad

Rishi Persad is a journalist and television personality, one of the most famous faces in the British sports industry.

He began his broadcasting career in May 2002 when attheraces was first launched. This was followed by a move to Racing UK where he introduced their first show in May 2004 from Kempton Park Racecourse.

He provided live coverage for no fewer than five different Olympic games (Athens, London, Beijing, Rio, Tokyo) and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He has also reported at Wimbledon, the US Masters, the Open and the Ryder Cup.

Horse racing remains closest to his heart where Rishi has been fortunate enough to cover many of the major international racing events including the Breeders Cup at Arlington in 2002 and Santa Anita in 2003, Hong Kong International Meeting in 2004, The Dubai World for the past 15 years, The Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe, The Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, Derby Festival, Royal Ascot and QIPCO British Champions Day.

Rishi’s family bred and raced thoroughbreds in the West Indies and that is where his interest for the sport began. This was fostered by his father who encouraged Rishi to spend more time studying form and pedigree than anything academic!

The Trinidadian continues to travel across the globe covering a range of sports for the likes of Sky Sports, ESPN, BBC and ITV.

Here is our Q & A with Rishi Persad:

1. Full name? Rishi Rodney Persad

2. Date of Birth? 26 May 1973.

3.Steak or sushi? Steak.

4. Superstitions? Never pass condiments on a dining table from hand to hand – it will lead to an argument.

5. Fav Holiday Destination? Barbados.

6. Which: BMW or Merc? BMW.

7. Who inspires you the most? When I was growing up I was inspired by sports stars, in racing it was Sir Michael Stoute and Walter Swinburn and in cricket Viv Richards and then Brian Lara. But perspectives change and now my daughter is my biggest inspiration in hoping to set an example for her to follow in how treat yourself and others with kindness.

8. Big night out or quiet night in? Quiet night in

9. Left-handed or right-handed? Right-handed in all things bar cricket and golf – maybe that’s why I’m no good at either.

10. Nick Luck, Oli Bell or Matt Chapman? No. No. No. That’s a terribly unfair question. Ideally Nick’s silky smooth delivery, Oli’s charm and Matt’s je ne sais quoi combined in one fictional broadcaster.

11. What annoys you the most? People picking food off my plate – get your own.

12. Studio presentation or out in the field? I like being able to do both, but out in the field if forced to choose.

13. Funniest person you have ever met? One of my colleagues across some of the sports I work on is commentator Andrew Cotter, his observations on how the human brain works are hilarious and probably explains why his social media videos of his two dogs, Olive and Mabel, became an internet sensation in Lockdown.

14. Golf, Soccer, Cricket, Tennis or Horseracing, if you had a choice? Ooh, again, so difficult. My dad used to take me racing and to the cricket in Trinidad when I was a little lad, so for the nostalgia and the memories of great days long gone, it would be those two.

15. Strict whip rules or no whip at all? Strict whip rules. The whip is an important tool for a rider’s safety as much as it is important to encourage a horse to keep running. Educating people as to why it is needed and that it does not hurt a horse is something every racing jurisdiction should be doing.

16. What is your biggest phobia? I really dislike snakes.

17. Most embarrassing moment? So many to choose from. One of the first was when asked to find a negative about a horse in the paddock early in my broadcasting career, I boldly suggested a 50/1 outsider called Omaha City. He duly bolted up.

18. How far have we come in promoting diversity in racing and how important is it? In Britain we have taken some small steps forward but there is such a long way to go. It is important to promote diversity because morally it is the right thing to do, but also if there is potential for a fresh and untapped customer base then, from a business development point of view, surely that is worth exploring. I don’t think the change I truly want will happen in my lifetime, but hopefully we are closer to that vision by the time I am gone. 

19. Best interview ever conducted? Not sure about the best, but holding the mic for the moment the greatest jump jockey of all time, Sir AP McCoy, announced his retirement was something special and most memorable.

20. Biggest ambition? I’d love to work at the Melbourne Cup to sample what that experience might be like.

21. Proudest Achievement? I try not to look back too often, but being able to attend the last 5 Olympic Games, broadcasting for the BBC, has been a real joy and privilege.

22. Economy or business class? If I could afford it, it would be business all the way.

23. Most famous person interviewed? Tiger Woods beats the rest by at least half a length.

24. Significant other? Recently married to Holly, my partner for the last 14 years.

25. Golf handicap? 6

26. Your star sign? Gemini, so don’t trust a word I have said.

27. Bath or shower? Shower for speed.

28. Read or Netflix? Netflix.

29. Would you rather ask for permission or ask for forgiveness? It is easier to ask for permission than forgiveness and I could handle someone not willing to give me permission much easier than some not granting me forgiveness.

30. Nominate someone for our Q&A next?  Lydia Hislop. -IRC.

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