The irony of Matt Chapman telling a punter to stop shouting was not lost on those watching ITV Racing recently. The phrase pot, kettle, black came to my own mind.
A poor imitation of the late John McCririck, the current broadcasting occupant of the betting ring is the reason I reach for the mute button the moment his face appears on screen. I then leave the room.
That’s a shame because some of the more recent filmed packages I have seen that have been produced by the ITV Racing production team have been well worth watching. But I’ve missed some good features and decent interviews due to my self isolation from Matt Chapman.
Do they really think Matt Chapman attracts extra viewers? Surely not.
I’m all for presenters not being bland. Heaven knows there are plenty of those on TV. Being outspoken, saying controversial things you genuinely believe in, that’s fair. But yelling at a television camera for the sake of it, and spouting outrageous comments purely to attract attention to yourself does not make for great television.
I speak as someone who has produced at least one show that was presented by a ‘shock jock.’ But that was to attract callers with a view on hot topics of the day. Not someone talking about betting!
There’s no love lost between Matt Chapman and trainer Mark Johnston, whose stable had such an excellent time of things last flat season. Chapman seemed intent on casting doubt on the performances by some of the Johnston trained horses, including Circus Maximus. He’s also poured scorn on other good horses and been left with egg on his face.
While I would agree with him that some Group class races these days are not worthy of being called such, to pick on individual trainers and their horses is out of order. What does he know about training thoroughbred racehorses? No more than you and I.
I recall when John McCririck cast aspersions on the performance of a horse trained by Sir Michael Stoute. The trainer was quick to respond: “This isn’t f*****g Escalado!”
I look forward to someone putting Matt Chapman in his place. Live on air.
In the betting ring Chapman is surrounded by a collection of drunks and despots. Presenting to camera in that atmosphere is a lot harder than you think. But his very presence and style of presentation only encourages the pissed punters to use profanities live on television.
Whenever Matt Chapman is not on duty, I will remain in the same room as the telly and watch the output. Predictably, as time has gone on, the ITV Racing coverage has matured. It’s got better. There are still too many people talking across each other, still some square peg presenters being placed in round holes and the television direction of the races themselves often remains inferior to that seen when racing was on Channel 4.
On the positive side I did enjoy the recent laid back coverage from Ireland, where racing goes ahead behind closed doors and members of VG Tips have received my analysis and tips for those meetings.
Coverage of the meeting at Thurles was a better watch for Chapman not being involved. ITV Racing did well to arrange transmission of that meeting in County Tipperary at such short notice. It ended with these poignant and wise words from one of the nicest and most professional members of the presentation team, Richard Hoiles.
Couldn’t have put it any better @richardhoiles 👏
Take care of yourselves and each other from everyone at ITV Racing. pic.twitter.com/FU3h3JfVE9
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 21, 2020
We need racing to be on terrestrial television. It has been that way all my life, since the days my late father and his four sons would sit down to watch ‘Grandstand’ on our black and white TV set. The BBC will never cover the sport again. They refused to race years ago.
If the next contract goes to the likes of Sky Sports then the popularity of the sport will only diminish. Cricket and now Rugby Union have chosen cash over viewers. Racing may do the same but if it does, I’ll not be watching. With or without the loudmouth shouting at me through my television set.