Ed Chamberlin: Up and running
Ed Chamberlin reflects on his first appearance in front of the ITV cameras and some of the feedback the new show received.
Ed and his colleages Sir Anthony McCoy and Luke Harvey at Cheltenham
"Anything can happen in sport. Who'd have thought you'd have gone from working in a nice warm studio working with two great pundits in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to standing out in the rain at Cheltenham with Luke Harvey and I" stated Sir Anthony McCoy with a wry smile.
The answer was to experience exactly what I did at Cheltenham on Sunday. That was what I signed up for and I absolutely loved it. Despite the heavy rain and freezing cold!
Imagine my reaction when I woke on Monday morning to a beautiful, crisp sunny day with texts from the executive at Cheltenham that the racecourse looked a picture.
What an experience it was from the moment the team met up on New Year's Eve. An early night followed for all. Obviously. Then breakfast together, which Sir Anthony very much enjoys these days, before travelling to the racecourse with nerves jangling.
Having not been in front of the camera for seven months, on the brink of presenting my first ever horse racing show and my debut on terrestrial television, you can imagine my reaction when all my notes were washed away. It was time to improvise and it was seat of your pants stuff with runners and cameras dropping like flies in the monsoon.
Analysis of the show was always going to be intense. Yet, despite working in Premier League football for so many years, even I was surprised to see and hear every aspect of the broadcast being dissected in such detail. It's great to have so many people talking about horse racing. The inevitable criticism and plentiful abuse doesn't phase me one iota, in fact some of that criticism will be very useful moving forward. However, it's important to remember that it was just the start of a long contract and journey. We have all learnt a lot.
The thing that disappoints me is the racing people who don't get or support what we are trying to do. Racing is lucky to have terrestrial TV coverage and and could so easily disappear off the sporting map for good if people don't embrace and support it.
Here are a couple of examples from the thousands of tweets I received:-
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@chamberlinsport shocking dumbing down going on Ed. You can do better! Thanks for telling us if you put £4 on at 9/4 you win £9!!
@itvracing I heard he asked what cheekpieces do, it's his job to know
Of course I know what cheekpieces do! That is not the point. It's my job to get the pundits to explain to people at home what certain things mean.
Racing jargon is a foreign language to so many people and one that alienates them and stops them watching the sport. We need to bring these people in to the racing world. We have to give a mainstream audience an insight in to the workings and nuances of this magnificent sport.
There's a balance to be found and Sunday was a first go. Things will evolve. However, we will continue to try and be 'inclusive'.
Despite all the fuss about the presentation the thing that matters most is the racing. We may have been unlucky with the weather but we got lucky with the finishes.
Four text book Cheltenham thrillers. The highlights of the day belonged to jockeys. Lizzie Kelly is brilliant for the sport and her smile after completing a double in the Relkeel on Agrapart lit up a gloomy racecourse. The Twiston-Davies family did similar earlier in the day. I will long remember Sam's delight at his brother's success and the messages of goodwill sent to Ryan Hatch.
From a personal point of view two of my favourite moments came the next day when I got a call from a villager, now aged 92 who crossed over on D-Day despite being badly wounded, to say ITV Racing had brightened his day.
Then two teenagers stopped me in Budgens for a photo and said they'd seen the ITV promo and given racing a go and loved it. And that is what we hope to achieve. Whether you're in racing or not, whatever age, we want you to enjoy watching this great sport.
I also got a call from Dermot Weld this morning to say well done to the team and how much he and his staff had enjoyed the coverage. That was pretty special.
On the day I particularly enjoyed the feature Gabriel Clarke did on Jonjo O'Neill. To have Gabriel, one of THE iconic voices in sport, on our ITV Racing team feels huge for racing. He is simply brilliant.
Next we head to Sandown for Tolworth Hurdle day on Saturday. I'm particularly looking forward to the first Opening Show at 10am that morning hosted by my good friend, ITV and Sporting Life colleague Oli Bell. Here's hoping people support what he and editor Paul Cooper are trying to do.
After the long wait, it feels great to have ITV Racing up and running. The long journey is under way. See you all at Sandown.
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