Ed Chamberlin: racing needs to modernise and engage new people
ITV Racing's main presenter Ed Chamberlin believes racing needs to learn from other sports and become less reactionary if it is to increase its popularity.
Chamberlin's message was delivered in a speech at the 247th Gimcrack Dinner at York racecourse on Tuesday night when he told guests that much-maligned racecourse concerts were a way to educate people about racing and that jockeys were vital in helping promote the sport.
He said he believed there was much ITV could do to move the sport forward, adding: "But to do that we need your help."
Chamberlin, who returned to racing having been one of Sky's main football presenters, said that in contrast to football the language of racing "intimidates and restricts" and needed "demystifying."
He added: "Some frown on concerts that are now so popular at race meetings in the summer. To me they offer a perfect opportunity to educate people about our sport, engage them in our sport, and entice them to come racing again."
Chamberlin said he believed racing "has many advantages over football" but "there is also plenty we can learn from football and other sports."
"Sports always needs to stay trendy," he went on. "To be vibrant and appeal to the young. Football never stands still. It's always modernising. The latest innovations with the likes of Friday night football and Manchester City launching a restaurant with a one-way glass into the tunnel.
"In cricket the advent of 20/20 and its ever changing and hugely popular finals day. Plans are afoot to make Test cricket more sexy. A few years ago cricket looked to be dying on its feet but with its innovations, it seems to be on the rise again and set to join horseracing as one of the few sports on terrestrial television.
"Racing needs to do similar and get on the front foot and be less reactionary."
Chamberlin also called trainers to not only allow apprentice riders to do media training but to encourage them to do so.
"So far, we have just scratched the surface with the players, the jockeys, on ITV," he said. "It is crucial in the modern age with so much information so readily available, that we tell viewers something they don’t know. To be different. To give them unique insight. I believe jockeys are in the best place to do this."
Chamberlin concluded: "These are exciting times – yet I'd love to see racing modernise and engage. It's a wonderful sport – for the many – not the few."
Peter Swann gave the traditional speech on behalf of the owners of this year's Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands Of Mali, the Cool Silk Partnership, in which he called on bookmakers and sports bodies to contribute financially to help those with gambling problems.
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