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Champion Hurdle Trial
The New One Unibet Hurdle (Champion Hurdle Trial) Haydock Park Saturday 19th January - Live on ITV 2.40pm

Gleeson a weak link in ITV coverage

Is it just me or does anyone else find Brian Gleeson a big turn off? All in all, I thought last week’s ITV Cheltenham coverage was first class. Ed Chamberlin is a top presenter. Luke Harvey, Mick Fitzgerald and AP McCoy all worked well alongside him. Not quite sure about Francesca Cumani doing the jumps. She does her homework, no doubt about that. However, I think I’d have shunted her off to the sidelines until the Craven meeting.

Alice Plunkett still seems unable to do an interview without using the word ‘emotional’. If I’d seen a spread bet offering a 15-20 ‘emotional’ range for the four days, I’d have bought big time. Sure enough, she’d used the word twice before the first race winner had entered the winner’s enclosure. And she continued gushing the word unabashed for the whole meeting.

But please spare me Brian Gleeson.

Gleeson is no McCririck

Gleeson was the one in the betting ring trying to do a ‘McCririck’ – and failing. Almost every piece he did to camera ended with him staring right down the lens. That’s not being funny, it’s being stupid. I found myself reaching for the mute button the moment his face appeared. Maybe ITV told Gleeson to act the fool. If so, he carried off the role to perfection.

Matt Chapman should have been in the betting ring, not Gleeson. Matt’s loud but that’s where he belongs. He was wasted on the ‘social stable’, stuck with some D-list celebrity, which seemed to be his lot during the Cheltenham coverage.

I’ve never been entirely happy about TV ambushing the winning jockey as soon as they pull up. Having said that, Bryony Frost was great after winning the Ryanair and it made great television. Rishi Persad and Olly Bell both do the job well enough but far more use could have been made of Sally Ann Grsssick, who, from what I’ve seen, not only asks good questions but also doesn’t ask stupid ones, or too many.

No doubt Gleeson will be back for Aintree and for Royal Ascot. My finger will be on the mute button.

About Chris Pitt

Chris Pitt is a racing historian and freelance journalist. He has written three books including 'A Long Time Gone', chronicling Britain's lost racecourses, and 'Go Down to the Beaten', stories of jockeys who didn't win the Grand National. He founded the Midlands Racing Club and was formerly racing correspondent for BBC Radio WM.

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