Irrepressible, orange-faced journalist Matt Chapman is set to return to the At The Races channel on Monday night, a move that is being hailed by some as a victory for punter power.
As regular readers of this blog will know, Chapman – a former reporter for the Racing Post newspaper – has not been seen on ATR since November 12 when he read out an apology to an Irish jockey for comments he had made 10 days before. Sadly for Chapman, the jockey on whom he failed to heap praise happened to be a solicitor when not in the saddle.
The news of Chapman’s return to the channel was broken this morning by Graham Green on the Racing Post website. ATR has always denied claims Chapman was being disciplined, and today’s Post story carries this quote from executive producer, Rob Dakin: ‘Matt is back on ATR tonight and is presenting Get On this Wednesday and Thursday. He will then be working for the rest of the month, and although we haven’t yet issued the January rota, Matt will be on it.
‘As I have said before, Matt was just taking a break from the channel, it was never going to be permanent, and he starts back today.”
When Chapman disappeared from TV screens, an online petition was started at the forum of Betfair, the betting website. It is thought as many as a thousand Betfair punters signed up and emailed ATR bosses urging them to bring back the so-called Tango Kid.
Comments on the forum included: ‘He’s astute and on the punter’s side when it counts and not BORINGLY GREY like the rest of them'(Schweppes); ‘Whether you like Matt Chapman or not you can’t sack a guy for having an opinion. 99% of people in racing are self-interested sychophants'(Avidboyd); ‘Matt’s a legend, A very funny man, racing needs characthers. The future is bright, the future is orange (Thai Tiger); ‘Free the orange one'(the lord bush).
Another Betfair forumite helpfully provided links to tasteful pictures of Chapman in well-deserved periods of relaxation. Axegrinder is happy to point you in the direction of not one, two, but three of these charming images.