Ed Chamberlin: “Oliver was brilliant”
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 2:50PM 30 JAN 2017
ED CHAMBERLIN, whose baptism of fire as ITV Racing’s anchor continued when the sport was left stunned and heartbroken by the death of Many Clouds, on Monday paid tribute to the Grand National hero’s trainer Oliver Sherwood for appearing on camera amid the sadness at Cheltenham.
Successful in the 2015 National, Many Clouds collapsed and died after denying Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thsitlecrack in a thrilling finish to the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Many were left in tears, including the popular ten-year-old’s trainer, whom Chamberlin praised for the way he dealt with the situation.
The new face of British racing on terrestrial television said: “I think the positive of it was Oliver coming to speak to us – he was brilliant. To speak in that way at that emotional time was so good of him and so impressive. Full marks to him for being brave enough to speak to the cameras because that wasn’t easy for him.
“He’s an emotional guy and had just lost his stable star and a horse who meant so much to so many people.
“My two overriding memories from the day are just the horrible, sombre feeling after the news spread – that’s National Hunt racing and people really feel it – and Oliver Sherwood. I’ll take away his brave words, his brilliant words. All credit to him. The more you think about it the better Oliver was. What a difficult thing to do and what a classy way to do it.
“The way they all dealt with it was phenomenal because I would see over his shoulder when I was speaking to him how upset his wife Tarnya was. For Oliver to hold it together like he did took some doing.”
Chamberlin, a well-respected football presenter when working for Sky Sports, was on air the day former Premier League ace and Wales manager Gary Speed died.
He added: “I’ve had some very difficult times on televisions in terms of bad injuries, I had the bomb scare at Old Trafford, but the worst would be Gary Speed. We were at Anfield and that news broke and it was very difficult because suddenly football felt irrelevant. That was half an hour before I came on air though, so I had a little bit of time to think about it and get my words right. With Many Clouds it’s all thinking on your feet and praying he was going to be okay.
“I’ll never forget the day. We were all buzzing. It was a brilliant day’s racing, sensational, and Un De Sceaux was bringing things to a crescendo.
“I said it at the time, it was like a festival day. The winner’s enclosure was packed and the place was humming. Everyone wanted a vantage point to see Un De Sceaux come back and not a soul moved because they knew Thistlecrack and Many Clouds were about to come into the parade ring.
“There was a massive buzz about the place and I’ve not experienced that before as a presenter at a live event because when you’re at Wembley or Old Trafford you’re in a studio. It was magic. I was thinking this is going to be great and then the contrast half an hour later was horrible, so horrible.”
Chamberlin, who described his first month on ITV as a steep learning curve following a rain-hit first broadcast at Cheltenham and the cancellations of Ascot and Taunton recently, added: “The challenge [from a broadcasting point of view] is to get the tone right. Whether we did that I don’t know – I’ve never done anything like that before and it wasn’t easy, but your thoughts are with the horse and with Trevor Hemmings, Oliver, his groom CJ [Chris Jerdin], Lisa [Kozak] and everyone else who Many Clouds touched.
“You’re heart went out to them and then you have to talk on camera – it wasn’t easy and you could see how tearful Luke Harvey and Nina Carberry were and the emotion from Alice Plunkett was very raw.
“You never want to go through that again, but these things will happen.”