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AP McCoy brings a smile to his new ITV racing role

By Graham Clarke

Pouring rain at Cheltenham failed to dampen the spirits of Ed Chamberlin as he led a new era for televised racing as the sport returned to ITV for the first time in 32 years.

Channel 4's tenure came to an end at Kempton and Chepstow on Tuesday, and it was also a first for Chamberlin, who has been a more familiar face to viewers fronting football coverage for Sky Sports.

Working alongside Sir Anthony McCoy and Luke Harvey in the heart of the hallowed winner's enclosure at the home of National Hunt racing, Chamberlin seemed at ease in his new surroundings.

There was a feeling Moneyglass man McCoy might have been underused on Channel 4 and his more prominent role backed up that belief.

He showcased his rapier-like dry sense of humour on more than one occasion and while the situation was probably helped by the fact Chamberlin and McCoy have been friends for years, they made a very good partnership. Harvey, too, also knows McCoy well and it showed.

Chamberlin said: "It was different from a nice, cosy warm studio at football grounds doing Monday Night Football, but I absolutely loved it.

"That's proper National Hunt weather and that's what it's all about. We promised to bring people to the heart of the action.

"What I love about it is the way I can just conduct things gently. I can conduct it and go around my team, which I love."

The livewire Matt Chapman added to proceedings from the betting ring and Chamberlin added: "I thought Matt was just Matt. There is no other way to describe him, he is just wonderful. I get on brilliantly with him.

"Alice (Plunkett) has got such a lovely touch with the stable staff and the owners. Lucy (Verasamy) was the one person who got something right with the weather.

"Richard (Hoiles, commentator) has been helpful to me all week in terms of stories and so on. I love the team in front of the camera and behind it.

"Those guys have got absolutely soaked, smiled all day and worked so hard. Full marks to them.

"As a debut as Matt said some people will hate it some people will like it. It was day one and things will evolve.

"I will go back and read everything and watch it over and over again. It is day one on what is going to be a long journey for myself and ITV Racing.

"It is just the start. Everything will evolve. My role will evolve, but hopefully people enjoyed it."

Chapman, a stalwart of satellite channel At The Races but getting his first role on terrestrial television, said: "It's very different. You are under constant pressure keeping timelines that I'm not used to.

"I absolutely fully appreciate with me some people will like it, some people will loathe it. Hopefully those who loathe it in time will begin to like it. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a brilliant sport and we will do our best to show it is a brilliant sport.

"I've said all along Ed will be a star and I think Luke and AP McCoy are a fantastic combination. Everything I've said so far has come true. Ed is the chief and he is a great chief."

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