As co-host of Ascot TV, Rupert Bell has been entertaining the masses at the Royal Meeting for two decades. Watch out - if you feel a tap on your shoulder it might well be him…
0500 alarms are extremely uncivilized but they are inescapable for me during Royal Ascot week. In addition to my duties for Ascot TV I provide bulletins for Talksport Radio, starting with the breakfast show. This means getting to the racecourse for around 0600.
The Ascot TV team have a daily production meeting at around 0930 and then myself and my co-presenter (xxxx) are on air from 1100, up on the big and small screens across the racecourse. We want to reflect the atmosphere of the day by interviewing a broad spectrum of people: celebrities, jockeys, fashionistas and all manner of unsuspecting racegoers.
We’re given a fairly loose rein because a lot of it has to be off-the-cuff. There’s always the danger that you can put your foot in it but we have plenty of fun. I remember one year organizing an impromptu dating contest. That certainly wasn’t in the notes.
That part of the day lasts until the Royal Procession and then from 1400 we are in racing mode. I provide radio bulletins throughout the afternoon but a really important duty of mine is hosting the post-race press conferences.
Interviewing my brother [leading trainer Michael Bell] if he has a winner is always difficult. As well as having to suppress huge familial pride, you can’t talk as brothers normally do. That’s probably a good thing as he’d most likely admonish me for being a buffoon. Once, in 2009, I fell over outside the weighing room and ended up needing nine stitches. I was patched up on site and only missed one bulletin but had a shiner for the rest of the week. If I wasn’t a married man and in a top hat I like to think I’d have looked like a bit of a tough guy.
Ascot TV goes off air at 1800 and my last radio work is normally around 1830. On my way back to the hotel I often go via the owners and trainers car park to freeload a small glass of something and unwind. Then, after an hour studying the racing press it’s dinner and bed, knowing that 0500 alarm is stalking me again.
Royal Ascot heralds the start of my favourite stretch of the working year. Afterwards I head to Wimbledon and then to the Open Championship. In the space of a few weeks, in 2000, reporting on Dubai Millennium, Pete Sampras and Tiger Woods all making history wasn’t a bad way to earn a living. How lucky can one man be?
To read more, purchase the Royal Ascot magazine at Ascot magazine