Some will love it, some will hate it, says ITV anchor Chamberlin
Ed Chamberlin and Matt Chapman ended ITV Racing's first programme with an acknowledgement that viewers will have been divided over the style of coverage delivered by the sport's new mainstream partner, which launched at Cheltenham on a cold and wet afternoon that left the lead presenter with frozen feet.
After a 32-year absence, Britain's leading commercial channel returned to being a racing broadcaster at 1pm with an opening montage that featured clips of the network's former output before Chamberlin – who previously hosted football for Sky – introduced members of a new team that on day one included Sir Anthony McCoy, Luke Harvey and betting ring reporter Chapman.
From the opening titles, which starred War Horse puppet Joey, to the use of two drones and an aerial paddock camera, it was clear production values were high.
However, the tone also appeared to be lighter than recent Channel 4 Racing viewers will have been used to, not least due to the contributions of popular At The Races front man Chapman, who encouraged those watching to guess if a hat-wearing bookmaker had hair.
"It felt different to being in a nice, warm cosy studio at a football ground," said Chamberlin.
"That's proper National Hunt weather. It's cold, wet and miserable. I've lost my feet completely but I absolutely loved it. We promised to bring people to the heart of the action and I think we did that."
Chapman, who on occasions had to handle a little public interference, evoking memories of a certain predecessor John McCririck, said: "I absolutely appreciate that with me some people will like it and other people will loathe it. Hopefully those who loathe it will, in time, begin to like it.
"This won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's a brilliant sport and we'll do our best to show that."
From now until the Cheltenham Festival that sport will be shown on ITV4, starting from Saturday, when the new morning programme will launch at 10am.
"There's plenty to work on ahead of Sandown next week," added Chamberlin. "There's always lots to work on. I will read everything and also watch it all over and over again. Right now I can't remember any of it.
"As a debut, some people will have hated it, some will have liked it. This was day one on what is going to be a long journey for ITV Racing. Things will evolve. It's just the start."