Plenty has been said with varying degrees of criticism from constructive to the usual standard of trolling as regarding Matt Chapman’s debut role as commentator on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.
For the record I think he did a decent job, it’s not a professional sporting event but an entertainment show and Matt was himself and certainly not copying anyone else, sure it was a divided opinion, but such is life and the show will go on.
Now what this brings me to is something which many people may not know or be surprised at when I mention it but if you are a sport that needs a commentator then one of the “Go to” sports when you need one over the years has appeared to be horse racing.
Many of our people who stand alone at the top of the stands during the year bringing the soundtrack and words to the thousands of races from Group to Selling Class have been utilised in other sporting events to fine acclaim and I would like to go through a few of them that have voiced these.
First up we have John Hunt, now I know John and have spent a few times with him in the box when he used to be the main commentator at Haydock and have witnessed first-hand how he learns the names, colours and form in minutes before describing the action, over the years in his other role as racing commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live John has also been the main swimming commentator for radio at major national events and in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, added into that the occasional football reporter John also commentated on the final event on radio at London 2012 before heading back to the racecourse the day after, during 2012 he took one day off to call Frankel home at Goodwood.
Simon Holt the long time Channel 4 lead before ITV took over did the lawn bowls at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi,India, Certainly a sport played at a more genteel pace than a Stewards’ Cup as I can testify when watching a game at the Glasgow one four years later.
Derek Thompson has two Olympics in his CV with the last one being the Barcelona one in 1992 when working for Eurosport in their studios in Paris to commentate on the diving plus in Seoul 1988 Derek did commentaries on the equestrian events too as he wrote about in his excellent autobiography.
Mark Johnson who I got to know when sat next to him in the Alan Lee Media Centre at Aintree last year during the Grand National meeting told me how along with racing in the early days he also did ball by ball play on cricket plus commentating on Formula One racing, a job which in his words were “I was literally being paid to party”.
Darren Owen has his voice heard regularly on the harness racing circuit, a sport I’ve still yet to go to but hope so one day.
One commentator with a different type of career outside of racing is Malcolm Tomlinson, outside the commentary boxes of Beverley and Market Rasen where he is heard the most during the year Malcolm is also an actor and has had television roles in Emmerdale and Hollyoaks along with various stage parts plus he is the father of Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson.
A mention purely for ego purposes must also go to yours truly here, and why not after all it is my article!
Outside of racing I also do the occasional bit of work in rugby league at Leigh East, an amateur side where a few times during the season when I have a free Saturday I am the match day announcer which involves reading out the teams and saying who has scored the tries, conversions and penalties, back in February last year I was challenged by a mate of mine to commentate on a game which somehow I did despite never having done a commentary at all in my life, thankfully I got to the end and it can be found on YouTube.
The announcing is a great job to and I’d love to have a go at a big club higher up the leagues but so far the offers have yet to appear.
Believe me this commentating is far more difficult than it sounded!.
So it’s really heart-warming to know that our commentators have many strings to their bow.
As for Matt Chapman well this is a huge opportunity for horse racing to become even more known and a show which will get millions of viewers will no doubt get told many times by Matt just how amazing this sport is and if you need a commentator then come over to horse racing where there is one that will suit your sport.
Article By Neil Watson – @WattyRacing