Ed Chamberlin: will front the racing coverage on ITV on New Year’s Day
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
By Tony McFadden 8:30aM 31 DEC 2016
IF YOU are envisaging a slow start on New Year’s Day after the excesses of the night before then don’t worry: rarely has there been a better time to have a lie-in before settling on the sofa to watch the racing on TV.
As usual, Cheltenham has served up a high-class card, while there is also plenty of competitive racing to enjoy at Musselburgh. However, most of the anticipation is centred around who is showing the racing – rather than what they are showing – as New Year’s Day marks the start of a new era in the broadcasting of horseracing in Britain.
So, who is showing the racing?
ITV takes over as racing’s exclusive terrestrial partner after a 32-year association with Channel 4 came to an end on Welsh National day on Tuesday.
ITV Racing starts its initial four-year term as the sport’s broadcaster with four races from Cheltenham, kicking off with the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at 1.25 and concluding with the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at 3.10.
The 1.40 and 2.50 at Musselburgh will also be shown in a two-and-a-half hour programme which begins at 1.00. Set your alarms.
Who’s on the ITV racing team?
Some familiar faces have made the switch from Channel 4 but ITV has been keen to put its own stamp on things and haven’t been afraid to mix things up.
Ed Chamberlin, best known for his acclaimed Monday Night Football coverage, has been lured from Sky to front the programme. The high-profile presenter, who worked for Ladbrokes before setting off on his media career, has been a life-long racing fan and described the opportunity as “too good to turn down”. He’s also the subject of a major interview in Sunday’s Racing Post.
Matt Chapman has been hired as a betting presenter and roving reporter, while Richard Hoiles will be the principal commentator, with Mark Johnson also taking on race-calling duties.
Former jockey Mick Fitzgerald, Rishi Persad and Alice Plunkett have all made the switch from Channel 4, but Nick Luck and Clare Balding – the two main presenters on Channel 4 – aren’t part of the team.
What are the big races?
There may be only five runners in the Dipper (1.25) but, as the King George proved, you don’t need big fields to make for an exciting race. Whisper, a winner at Cheltenham last month on his seasonal reappearance, clashes with stablemate O O Seven and the exciting Clan Des Obeaux. Improving mare Briery Belle, a winner of both starts over fences, adds extra spice to an intriguing contest.
More Of That used the Relkeel Hurdle (3.10) as the springboard for World Hurdle success in 2013 and, while this year’s race may be lacking a star, some evenly-matched, likeable horses go to post in a fascinating contest which could make for a decent betting heat.
Which horses should I watch out for?
The horse with the most long-term potential is arguably Clan Des Obeaux (1.25) as he created a fantastic impression when bolting up in a Grade 2 at Newbury in November and still has time on his side to make up into a top-notch chaser for Paul Nicholls.
Lil Rockerfeller has been a credit to connections, going out on his shield against Yanworth and Unowhatimeanharry the last twice, and trainer Neil King will be hoping that he can gain a deserved success in the Relkeel (3.10). Cole Harden is an interesting runner in the same race as the 2015 World Hurdle winner reverts to hurdles having jumped hesitantly on his chasing debut at Wetherby four weeks ago.
If you are looking for a bet, it may be worth checking out the 3m2½f handicap (12.50) which takes place before the ITV cameras start rolling. Racing Post expert Paul Kealy and Paddy Power’s Frank Hickey both agree that there is one horse well worth backing. You can find out who they are talking about by listening to the Racing Post Postcast.
How can I win big?
There is currently £387,617 in the win pool of the Scoop6 after the bet rolled over again on Boxing Day, while there is another £105,034 in the bonus fund. With the pot set to swell further on New Year’s Day a single winner of both funds could be set to take away something in the region of £750,000. Not a bad way to start 2017!
The six Scoop6 races to start studying are:
Leg 1: 12:50 Cheltenham
Leg 2: 1:40 Musselburgh
Leg 3: 2:00 Cheltenham
Leg 4: 2:35 Cheltenham
Leg 5: 2:50 Musselburgh
Leg 6: 3:10 Cheltenham