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Lydia Hislop: Why I enjoy working on a specialist racing channel

My granddad was a punter… though not a very good one. He took me racing from a very young age: firstly to Wolverhampton, then to the middle day of the Cheltenham Festival. I developed a fixation with Very Promising (in fact I’ve still got one of his shoes), and with other David Nicholson-trained horses. In fact, my dad would take me on visits to Nicholson’s yard in Condicote, before he moved up to Jackdaws Castle. The first race I remember watching was the 1982 Grand National. I think, inevitably, if people have a winning bet, that ties them in. Well, I had a 10p win on Grittar, so from then on, I became a bit of an obsessive.

I never imagined I could work in racing. I went to university, where I studied English, and when I graduated, everyone around me was getting jobs as lawyers and consultants. I didn’t really fancy that, so I wrote to The Racing Post and Sporting Life to ask for some work experience. The Sporting Life replied by return post, and they asked me up for an interview. The editor told me I could come for a month and, if they liked me, I could stay for longer. Well, they did like me, so I stayed for four months, and from then on, I tumbled from job to job. There wasn’t much thought put into it, save for my initial hope of not wantin