ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin talks everything Cheltenham Festival
PUBLISHED: 11:21 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:21 18 February 2020
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We caught up with the sports broadcaster ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival to talk WellChild, Cheltenham and racing tips
Ed Chamberlin is the popular face of ITV Racing with a passion for the Cheltenham Festival which is a highlight of his year. He is also a huge supporter, and celebrity ambassador, of Cheltenham based WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children.
This year, for the fourth time, Ed will be coming to Cheltenham in the run up to the festival to host the Festival Focus event which takes place on Thursday March the 5th at Cheltenham Ladies College. The evening will include a top racing panel led by Ed, joined by trainers, Kim Bailey and Richard Phillips along with columnist and former Racing Post Editor, Bruce Millington and jockey Aidan Coleman who will all share their experiences, opinions and tips for the week ahead.
We caught up with Ed as the clock ticks down to the start of this year's festival and asked him how much he is looking forward to coming to Cheltenham this year with the ITV team?
"It's four of the biggest days of the sporting year," said Ed. "We've been looking forward to it and planning for it since we left Cheltenham last year. It's a monster event and with all the stories this year the excitement is building to fever pitch.
"Every National Hunt owner, trainer and jockey wants to win at Cheltenham. It's as simple as that. The way the season builds to the crescendo is the envy of so many other sports. Add in the British-Irish rivalry and you have a special event.
What should we be looking out for in terms of the big races, horses, trainers and jockeys this year?
"There are great stories galore," said Ed, offering his rundown of some of the highlights of this year's event.
"Day One - Rachael Blackmore could star. Racing must shout from the rooftops that women and men compete on a level playing field and in Rachael we have a global superstar.
"Day Two - the race of the meeting. Altior v Defi du Seuil v Chacun Pour Soir. A Champion Chase blockbuster. We also have the Irish 'banker' Envoi Allen so the atmosphere will be electric plus we can't forget my beloved Tiger Roll who's going for a remarkable fifth Cheltenham Festival victory.
"Day Three - Frodon and Paisley Park could be back for more. Get the handkerchiefs ready.
"Day Four - an intriguing Magners Gold Cup."
We couldn't speak to a racing expert like Ed Chamberlin without asking whether he has any tips for us for us this year?
"Yes - watch ITV! And have a couple of quid each-way on Aso at 33/1 in the Ryanair. I think Al Boum Photo will retain his Gold Cup title."
This will be the fourth year Ed has hosted the Festival Focus event in Cheltenham to support WellChild's work with seriously ill children and their families across the UK and the event is going from strength to strength. Is Ed pleased with how it has taken off?
"I'm delighted. WellChild is such a special charity and so close to my heart and the team do a great job with Festival Focus. I'm also so grateful to some of the biggest names in racing giving up their time to support that charity.
"It's good fun. We have races, competitions and a forum to find everyone lots of Cheltenham winners! Plus the odd impression and story too."
And it also seems there will there be a lot of racing expertise in the room?
"Yes. Former Racing Post editor, Bruce Millington. Top trainers Kim Bailey and Richard Phillips. Paisley Park's jockey Aidan Coleman."
Finally we ask Ed what drew him to offer his support to WellChild's work with seriously ill children and their families? It seems Ed had his own battle with ill health in 2009 when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and this made him want to help others with ill health.
"When I was in Southampton General Hospital the children's cancer ward next door broke my heart. I vowed if I recovered to help get children looked after at home. Hence my love and admiration for the WellChild nurses."
As well as having been the host at the annual WellChild Awards in London, Ed also runs two successful fundraising events each year for WellChild, Festival Focus and his Ed Chamberlin Classic golf day.
"I love doing both," he said. "My golf day has helped fund some WellChild nurses which is incredibly satisfying. The WellChild Ed Chamberlin Classic is back at The Belfry in May and is bigger and better than ever!"
Get your tickets to the Festival Focus, which takes place on Thursday 5th March 2020 at Cheltenham Ladies College from 7pm, here.