We are delighted to present an interview with ITV racing’s Ed Chamberlin. Ed is the lead presenter for the racing on ITV 1 & the former Sky Sports presenter takes us through his career, his love of racing & his favourite horse of all time….
|When you were younger, what career did you have in mind? |
Like most young boys I wanted to be a professional sportsman, either playing football or cricket – until reality rapidly dawned. By the time I got to Exeter University I knew I wanted to work in horse racing hence applied for a place on the BHB, as it was then, Graduate Scheme.
If my research is correct you started working for Ladbrokes, which position did you hold & what did your job entail?
Yes. From the graduate scheme I did a two-week placement at Ladbrokes. I ended up staying there for three-and-a-half years, first in the shops, then the trading floor before eventually getting a job as a horse racing and cricket odds compiler. I wasn’t very good but relished the opportunity.
How did the job with Sky on the Full SP come about?
I left Ladbrokes to start up a betting magazine and website – state of the art in the late 1990s! – called ‘Sports Adviser’ and to promote it I used to appear on Bloomberg Television every weekend. Sky spotted me there and offered me a weekly role as the betting and stats expert on “90 Minutes” with Matt Lorenzo and Kirsty Gallagher. “The Full SP” followed on from that.
What was it like working with Jeff Sterling & did he give you any advice, which you still use today?
My hero is Des Lynam but Jeff isn’t far behind and what he does on Soccer Saturday is the hardest presenting job in television. I used to present the midweek Soccer Specials and showed exactly how hard it is!
I learnt so much from Jeff, especially the importance of preparation and that television must be entertaining. An important lesson for racing coverage today.
Super Sunday & MNF…..
How nervous were you making your debut, taking over the show?
Very. My big break came in 2010 when I got the job hosting those two shows and being thrown in at the deep end with Gary Neville. It was sink or swim. Our first MNF was Manchester City v Swansea and my heart was beating out of my chest. Seconds away from our debut presenting the iconic show I looked across to G Nev for reassurance but he said he was more nervous than when he was in the Wembley tunnel at Euro ‘96. A rather frantic, chaotic debut followed and Twitter tore us to pieces. I developed a thick skin and just like after ITV’s first show in 2017, I was determined to prove people wrong.
Do you have any special moments from your time as Presenter of the show?
There were lots of great moments and it got even better when Jamie Carragher joined us. Individual awards are nice but winning an RTS Award together as a team was definitely a highlight.
Had you already decided to leave in 2016 before ITV had won the racing contract?
No. Far from it. I was very happy, though it did feel like the end of an era when Gary left to manage Valencia. We’d been on a great journey for six years. ITV’s approach in 2016 came out of the blue at a time when I was ready for another challenge and I jumped at the chance.
How long did it take you to decide to head up the ITV racing team & what excited you about the job?
30 seconds. I was really excited by ITV’s plans and the thought of working on terrestrial television. As I said earlier, working in horse racing had always been my dream. I was motivated by ITV’s ethos of making racing accessible and entertaining for as many people as possible. They are brilliant to work for and everything is about the ‘team’.
ITV & Racing……
ITV Day 1…..
Big day going Live….. How excited were you & what were you worried about the most?
I was most nervous about the transition from football to racing. That is quite a challenge. I had little idea what I was letting myself in for. I’d left Sky after 20 years when Leicester won the Premier League and spent six months immersed in racing. In hindsight that was an error. Not being too immersed in a sport can be an advantage as it helps a presenter on terrestrial tv to see the big picture, explain things when necessary, and ask the questions people at home want to know. We are broadcasting to an enormous, broad church on ITV.
I was well prepared on day one but in the Cheltenham monsoon my notes got washed away and my iPad packed up, so I had to improvise….
Sir Anthony McCoy asked halfway through the show why I’d given up a cosy, warm football studio to stand out in the wind and rain at Cheltenham. It was a baptism of fire and drew lots of criticism on social media and in the press. I used that as motivation and knew we had a great team in front and behind the camera, who could make it work and that we were on to something.
Like most sports, anything can happen, how do you handle this & is this what makes it so exciting?
If you’re not nervous presenting on live television then something is wrong. You need to embrace those nerves and adrenalin. It’s a great buzz. Warmth and likeability is everything in television. Often there is madness all around you and in your earpiece. Your legs might be going at a hundred miles an hour but your need to portray calm to people at home, whatever the situation. That’s why Des Lynam was the doyenne of sports presenters. And why sport still commands big audiences and is no good ‘on demand’. You can’t beat live, unscripted drama.
What have been the best & worst moments of your time on ITV racing?
Losing Many Clouds was worst moment. On just our fourth show. That was a desperately sad day and a steep learning curve for me. Oliver Sherwood rescued the situation with an outstanding interview.
Increasing racing’s audience has been satisfying but becoming just the seventh person to present the Grand National was a dream come true in April 2017. One For Arthur gave us a great story and to win a BAFTA for the coverage was the best moment of my tv career. Though I wish I could have another go at the winning speech!
Is this your dream Job?
Unquestionably. It remains a big challenge but I feel incredibly fortunate.
Let’s talk Racing…..
How did you get into racing?
My grandfather was racing mad and I was in charge of his ITV7 entry.
What is your earliest racing memory?
Watching Aldaniti win the National with my 50p each-way on Spartan Missile. I was fuming.
What drew you into racing & what keeps you hooked?
The betting initially but now the majesty of the racehorse, thrill of the sport allied with great human stories are irresistible hooks for racing.
Best LIVE racing moment?
Tiger Roll’s first Grand National. I’d tipped him everywhere and love that horse.
Best race you have seen Live?
Party Politics’ Grand National was a big thrill as I’d backed him all winter, as was the Tiger winning his first cross-country but I love great duels so Native River v Might Bite and Enable v Crystal Ocean will live long in the memory.
Impossible question as I love so many for different reasons and relish the fact that every week in racing is different. Aintree, Cheltenham, Royal Ascot, Goodwood and York are all very special.
If you could change 2 things about the current situation within racing, what would they be & why?
Increase prize money, get crowds back on racecourses and keep encouraging youngsters to engage with the sport.
As we now head out of the flat season & headlong into the NH, do you have a horse for our readers to keep an eye out for?
Shiskin should be mustard over fences. Copperhead will win the Ladbrokes Trophy.
We would like to thank Ed for his time & wish Ed and all the team all the best for the rest of 2020. The future of racing on terrestrial TV is in safe hands & we look forward to many more years of ITV racing
Interview by Rich Williams
Pictures – Ed Chamberlin ( Ed Chamberlin ) Others ( File )