Opinions will be divided on coverage, say ITV team
ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin at Cheltenham on New Year's Day
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Opinions will be divided on coverage – ITV team By Lee Mottershead 8:00PM 1 JAN 2017
ED CHAMBERLIN and Matt Chapman ended ITV Racing's first programme with an acknowledgement viewers will have been divided over the style of coverage delivered by the sport's new mainstream partner, which launched at Cheltenham on a cold and wet afternoon that left the lead presenter with frozen feet.
And to back up their feelings, a poll run on Twitter by the Racing Post after the racing on Sunday showed 55 per cent of the 2,200 voters by 8pm preferred the coverage provided by Channel 4, which had broadcast racing until the end of last year.
After a 32-year absence, ITV, Britain's leading commercial channel, returned to being a racing broadcaster at 1pm with an opening montage that featured clips of the network's former output before Chamberlin – who previously hosted football for Sky – introduced members of a new team that on day one included Sir Anthony McCoy, Luke Harvey and betting ring reporter Chapman.
From the opening titles, which starred War Horse puppet Joey, to the use of two drones and an aerial paddock camera, it was clear production values were high.
However, the tone also appeared to be lighter than recent Channel 4 Racing viewers will have been used to, not least due to the contributions of popular At The Races front man Chapman, who encouraged those watching to guess if a hat-wearing bookmaker had hair.
"It felt different to being in a nice, warm cosy studio at a football ground," said Chamberlin.
"That's proper National Hunt weather. It's cold, wet and miserable. I've lost my feet completely but I absolutely loved it. We promised to bring people to the heart of the action and I think we did that."
Chapman, who on occasions had to handle a little public interference, evoking memories of a certain predecessor John McCririck, said: "I absolutely appreciate that with me some people will like it and other people will loathe it. Hopefully those who loathe it will, in time, begin to like it.
"This won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's a brilliant sport and we'll do our best to show that."
ITV Racing trended on social media for much of Sunday afternoon pointing to the amount the programme was being discussed.
Trainer Eve Johnson Houghton wrote on Twitter: "Enjoying ITV racing especially feature on Jonjo [O'Neill], but please sort out the graphics. Very hard to read! Horses names okay, rest too small."
Read more on the first day of racing on ITV only in Monday's Racing Post – on iPad from 8pm on Sunday