Jason Weaver excited to be part of ITV team that will provide a 'feast of racing'
The process will be far from conventional, but Jason Weaver cannot wait to be part of an ITV presenting team that brings a ‘feast of racing’ back to our screens.
Subject to government approval, the British Horseracing Authority is planning for the sport to resume at Newcastle on June 1, with ITV due to show its first live action from Newmarket on June 5.
But rather than be at the Rowley Mile, Weaver and his colleagues are to initially carry out their duties at home from newly-constructed studios.
Newmarket-based Weaver – a former jockey with more than 1,000 winners to his name – will work out of his living room, while presenters Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani have similar set ups.
The trio – along with commentator Richard Hoiles – have already had some trial runs, and although the process has thrown up some challenges, Weaver is confident the whole package will continue to keep the viewers informed and entertained.
“I am set up in the front room,” said Weaver, who won the 2,000 Guineas – a race due to be screened live on June 6 – onboard Mister Baileys in 1994.
“We had our garage converted but my wife and sons are using that for work and their education, so it is just easier this way.
“It is different of course and there will be plenty of challenges, but everybody knows how good Ed is and with myself, Macca, Coops and Rich all following his lead, we will be fine.
“I am sure there will be things that happen unexpectedly as well, but with the Coronation Cup at Newmarket on the Friday, then the two Guineas, Irish racing starting up and then on to Ascot, what a feast of racing we will be able to bring people.
“Ed and Francesca will set the tone and we will follow that, yet we will also be looking to retain that fun and entertainment element. With all of the issues at the moment, it is vital we put smiles on faces to go alongside some great racing.”
While the racing landscape will be different for Weaver and his work-mates, it is the same for all concerned in the industry.
Social distancing will be enforced throughout all venues, while all of the action will take place behind closed doors.
It is likely to be that way for some time – the ‘new normal’ to use a current on-trend phrase.
Nevertheless, Weaver believes everyone in racing is itching to get restarted.
“It seems like a lot of other sports are currently pulling in different directions,” he added.
“That can happen in racing when things are running, but right now everyone wants the same thing.
“There are so many cogs involved – from farriers, grooms, owners and trainers – and they all want racing back as soon as possible.
“There will be a lot of changes, we all know that, but it feels like we are close now.
“There had been hope we could get back sooner and there have been some major disappointments and knock-backs, and because of that we are all excited.
“That goes for jockeys as well. Things will change a lot for them, but if I was still riding I’d have no issues about going back. I speak to Franny Norton a lot and he says the jocks are well up for it.”
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More by this authorLiam Apicella