From humble beginnings, Oli Bell has made it proper to the highest of his occupation.
The agency favorite with ITV Racing viewers is poised for an additional action-packed Cheltenham Pageant. Internet hosting the Social Secure with Love Island star Chris Hughes, it their his job to make viewers really feel a part of the occasion.
Bell additionally takes the main function on The Opening Present, an prolonged 90-minute programme on every day of the assembly. Pundits have been allotted extra time to analyse the races and debate the day’s speaking factors, views accompanied by dwell footage from the monitor.
Right here Bell talks about his function in our particular Cheltenham Pageant Q&A – and offers us his high suggestions for the week…
What’s your background in racing?
All I used to be keen on in school was sport. Mum says I’d go to youngsters events with the Sporting Life whereas my pals had been working round consuming crisps or having their faces painted! I used to be about 4 once I went to Leicester for the primary time and noticed a horse known as Dwelling By The Hill, educated by my uncle Michael, win and I caught the racing bug.
How did you get into broadcasting?
From the age of 14 I used to be doing faculty radio and dwell interviews – any excuse to get out of double Historical past! I constructed up my expertise and a good friend of mine was a receptionist at Racing TV She linked me up – and I began on the backside of the ladder as a runner, making teas for Lydia (Hislop) and Fortunate (Nick Luck). Working behind the scenes was the perfect introduction, studying how dwell TV works.
I had a display screen check with Rishi (Persad) at Sandown and after a number of years I had the prospect to current from Salisbury when somebody was sick. I used to be terrified and did not sleep all evening. I used to be then requested to work for Sky in Australia and I spent three years over there. I am a little bit of a worrier however felt I may give it a go as I had a job to return again to.
Was it difficult to adapt your presenting model from Racing TV to ITV?
Sure. Racing TV was a large consolation blanket because it was all I had recognized. I went in there as an 18-year-old together with his bleach blonde hair, making an attempt to look cool! Then in 2017 it was into the terrestrial world. It took me a number of months to be myself.
On Mum’s aspect of the household, my brother and sister aren’t actually keen on racing so it is second nature to clarify sure issues. After I’m working for ITV I attempt to current like I am speaking to my mates down the pub and conveying my love for racing.
What’s your favorite function in your present job?
I like presenting The Opening Present, particularly when it is Cheltenham and it’s an prolonged 90-minute present daily . Within the afternoon I like to be as near the motion as potential, nonetheless the best way I see it’s we’re one huge workforce and it is my job to be put in a job which provides the viewers the perfect expertise.
Oli Bell’s Cheltenham Pageant suggestions
Bell’s banker is the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work within the Cross Nation.
“He received final 12 months and ran nicely within the handicap on the course in January. He is the category act within the race and ought to be exhausting to beat,” he stated.
Barry Connell’s Marine Nationale, not seen on the monitor since December, is subsequent on the presenter’s checklist. The unbeaten novice edged forward within the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse – and Bell expects him to maintain his excellent document intact.
“I believe Marine Nationale is an effective wager to kick off the assembly,” he stated. “Particularly now Facile Vega would not go there after an amazing prep.”
Within the Gold Cup, all eyes can be on Willie Mullins’ favorite Galopin Des Champs. The gifted chaser bids to regain the highest prize his steady received in 2019 and 2020 with Al Boum Photograph.
“A strongly run Gold Cup ought to see Galopin Des Champs in a greater gentle,” Bell stated. “He is so gifted, the extra in his consolation zone he can be.”
His longshot to notice is Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock within the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
This 12 months you’ll as soon as once more be the face of the Social Secure. Inform us about that…
At ITV we wish folks to really feel they’re part of the motion. It bridges the hole utilizing social media and seeing what individuals are speaking about. The place we’re on track, numerous racegoers cease and chat and it is an actual pleasure, as a result of I am as a lot as a fan as they’re. Chris Hughes will be a part of me at the beginning of every programme after which exit on his roving function. We could have a few celebrities coming to talk to us and I hear Jack Whitehall could also be swinging by.
What’s your earliest reminiscence of the Cheltenham Festival?
The years of Istabraq successful the Champion Hurdle. He was an absolute monster and he used to make the hairs on my neck rise up. I noticed an image of him the opposite day in retirement and he is nonetheless going sturdy on the age of 31, which is incredible.
Do you may have a favorite winner?
Black Hercules within the 2016 JLT Novices’ Chase. I heard he could be going for the race relatively than the four-miler, so acquired a pleasant value about him. He was Ruby Walsh’s fiftieth Cheltenham Festival winner too.
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What are you most wanting ahead to at this 12 months’s assembly?
Structure Hill – I believe we have now among the best bounce horses ever on our palms. I can not bear in mind seeing a horse as spectacular within the flesh, one I’ll find yourself telling my youngsters about. Proprietor Michael Buckley stated he was requested for his autograph the opposite day. So individuals are conscious how good the horse is.
The opposite factor about this 12 months’s assembly is the remainder of the races look so open which makes it extra entertaining. There can be aggressive fields and respectable betting markets.
Who have you ever loved interviewing/assembly probably the most?
In 2021 I met a racegoer known as Brenda (Karn-Smith) at Goodwood, who has since sadly died. She was actually bubbly and gave me an interview I did not count on, I used to be in awe of her. To me which means greater than interviewing well-known folks.
What’s racing’s largest problem for the time being?
The whip I believe is short-term noise and we cannot be speaking about it at subsequent 12 months’s Pageant. The fixture checklist and prize cash are two points. Locations like Australia and Japan have a booming business and if we do not handle what’s occurring right here, British racing will not have the facility it as soon as had.
What do you get pleasure from doing outdoors of racing?
Enjoying poker, I lately received the European Grand Prix. I’ve offered different sports activities for ITV, I get pleasure from taking part in golf and coaching in a boxing gymnasium. I am as a consequence of have a battle developing and there may be speak I is perhaps taking up coach Charlie Fellowes! I’ve additionally written some youngsters’s books at house to fill a while.
ITV Racing is on each day from 1pm-4.30pm daily and The Opening Present can be broadcast on ITV4 between 8.30am and 10am