Clare Balding

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Clare Balding

Stockbridge Christmas Evening - Sue Robinson, Clare Balding and Anno Webley in Lane End Kitchenware (cropped) (cropped 2).jpg
Balding in December 2015
Clare Victoria Balding

(1971-01-29) 29 January 1971 (age 51)
Alma materNewnham College, Cambridge
  • Television and radio presenter
  • journalist
  • jockey
(m. 2015)

Clare Victoria Balding OBE (born 29 January 1971)[2] is an English broadcaster, journalist, and author. She currently presents for BBC Sport, Channel 4, BT Sport, is the current president of the Rugby Football League (RFL) and formerly presented the religious programme Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2.

Early life and family[edit]

Balding was privately educated at the independent, Downe House school in Berkshire, where she was Head Girl and a contemporary of comedian Miranda Hart. Hart and Balding are in fact tenth-cousins, sharing a nine-times-great-grandfather in Sir William Leveson-Gower, 4th Baronet.[3]

Clare Balding applied to read law at Christ's College, Cambridge, but failed her interview and realised that law was not what she most wanted to do.[4] She later successfully applied to Newnham College, Cambridge, and read English.[5] While at university she was President of the Cambridge Union Society in Easter 1992 and graduated in 1993 with a 2:1 honours degree.[citation needed]

From 1988 to 1993, Balding was a leading amateur flat jockey and Champion Lady Rider in 1990. Her memoir My Animals and Other Family documents her life growing up in a racing yard. It won the National Book Awards "Autobiography of the Year" in 2012.

Clare Balding has close family links to horse racing: her father, Ian Balding, trained Mill Reef, 1971 winner of The Derby, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes; and her younger brother, Andrew Balding, trained Casual Look, the winner of the 2003 Epsom Oaks. The latter win led to a very emotional post-race interview with her brother. Her uncle Toby Balding trained winners in the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. Furthermore, her maternal grandfather was the trainer Peter Hastings-Bass and her maternal uncle William Hastings-Bass, 17th Earl of Huntingdon was once trainer to Queen Elizabeth II. Her maternal grandmother, Priscilla Hastings, was descended from the Earls of Derby and was one of the first women elected to membership of the Jockey Club.[6]

Balding's well-documented aristocratic lineage on her mother's side can be seen in records that TheGenealogist has identified in research.[7] Researchers found Balding's maternal line reveals that she is the great-granddaughter of Sir Malcolm Bullock, a Member of Parliament, whose sexuality had to be kept hidden because homosexuality was illegal in Britain. His sexuality was investigated in her episode of the Who Do You Think You Are? programme first broadcast in July 2017. Balding's paternal grandfather Gerald Barnard Balding Sr, was a 10-goal polo player who immigrated to America to play polo in the 1920s when he was in his 20s. Outbound passenger lists on a genealogy website include Balding's grandfather and it was at this time that Gerald Balding Sr met and later married the American heiress, Eleanor Hoagland. While the show, Balding discovered her great-great-great-grandfather was Joseph Hoagland, who in 1866 founded the Royal Baking Powder Company, which, through pioneering use of mass advertising campaigns, he built up one of the largest producers of baking powder in the US and later a global business.[7]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Clare became a trainee with BBC National Radio in 1994, working on 5 Live, Radio 1 (presenting the sport on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show), Radio 2 and Radio 4. In June 1995, she made her debut as a television presenter, introducing highlights of Royal Ascot. The following year she began presenting live, and in December 1997 she became the BBC's lead horse racing presenter after the retirement of Julian Wilson, and has fronted coverage of the Grand National, infamously humiliating Liam Treadwell, Grand National winner 2009.

Balding has reported from seven Olympic Games, for BBC Radio in Atlanta and for BBC Television in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. She has presented four Paralympic Games, the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, Sochi Pyeongchang and Beijing as well as the Commonwealth Games from Melbourne, Delhi, Glasgow and Gold Coast. She was the face of the BBC's rugby league coverage, having presented Grandstand from a Rugby League Challenge Cup semi-final, and having been so impressed by the vibrancy and physical challenge of the sport she asked to cover further rugby league events. She was the last person to present Sunday Grandstand.

She also presents the Lord Mayor's Show as well as other live events for the BBC, such as Trooping the Colour and New Year's Eve. Clare has presented coverage of Crufts for the BBC from 2004 – 2009 and for Channel 4 since 2013.

She also presents the walking programme Ramblings for BBC Radio 4 where she walks and talks with one or more devotees of a particular route, area or activity and has, for example, walked sections of the Lyke Wake Walk[8][9] and Dales Way[10][11] for the programme.[12] Clare worked on 5 Live's Wimbledon coverage from 1995 to 2014. From 2015 onwards, Balding has presented BBC2's Wimbledon Highlights programme. There has been some criticism of her in this role, due to her lack of knowledge and enthusiasm.[13][14] She has also presented coverage of The Boat Race for the BBC since 2010, including the first live coverage of the women's Boat Race on the Tideway in 2015.

In 2010, Balding presented a BBC TV series called Britain By Bike that retraced some of Harold Briercliffe's British cycle tours.[15]

In August 2011 Balding joined BBC's Countryfile, temporarily replacing Julia Bradbury while Bradbury was on maternity leave, co-hosting the show with Matt Baker. Bradbury returned in February 2012.

From February to March 2012 she presented Sport and the British on BBC Radio 4, a thirty-part series looking at the impact of sports on British life.

Balding was a lead presenter on Channel 4's Paralympics TV coverage.[16] In August 2012 it was reported that Balding would be presenting Channel 4's racing coverage, while still retaining an option to work for the BBC on non-racing programmes such as rugby league.[17]

In October 2012, she appeared before an All Party Parliamentary Group on women's sport, with Katherine Grainger, Hope Powell and Tanni Grey-Thompson. "Women having freedom to play sport leads directly to women having political freedom," said Balding.[18] In 2013, to mark the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison's fatal intervention in the 1913 Derby, Balding presented a documentary about Davison for Channel 4 called Secrets of the Suffragettes.[19] Also in 2013, she presented a BBC documentary about the Queen called The Queen – a Passion for Horses.[20] Other factual documentaries for the BBC have included Britain By Bike, Operation Wild, and Britain's Hidden Heritage.

She has served as one of the presenters on BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Balding was the presenter of Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 from January 2013 to November 2017; leaving the show due to schedule changes which would not allow her to continue to present the programme and do other work.[21] Balding also presented a Saturday night quiz show for BBC1 called Britain's Brightest, which began in January 2013. She was a senior presenter on Channel 4 Racing, from 2013 to 2016, predominantly fronting coverage of major festivals such as Cheltenham and Royal Ascot.[22]

Balding currently hosts her own sports chat show called The Clare Balding Show, which airs on BT Sport and BBC Two. Guests so far have included Lewis Hamilton, Tom Daley, Mike Tyson, Martina Navratilova, Frankie Dettori, Judy Murray and Ronnie O'Sullivan.


Clare has written columns for The Sporting Life, Racing Post, Sunday Telegraph, The Evening Standard and Stylist and currently writes a regular weekly sports column for Waitrose Weekend.

She signed a deal with Viking Press to write an autobiography entitled My Animals and Other Family, which was published in September 2012.[23][24] My Animals and Other Family reached Number One in The Sunday Times Bestseller list and has been translated into Italian, Mandarin and Hungarian. Her second book, Walking Home: My Family and other Ramblings, was published in September 2014.

Copy-control controversy[edit]

Balding was involved in a copy-control controversy in 2017, when it was alleged that she or her agent rewrote part of an interview that she gave to Saga magazine, provoking the journalist Ginny Dougary to remove her byline from the interview. According to Dougary, Balding removed sections of the text and inserted promotional material about her new book, as well as details of her hosting of the women's European football championships and the words "And indeed she [Balding] sparkles all the way through the photo shoot," despite Dougary commenting that this was not the case and that Balding was rather "a brisk, jolly-hockey-sticks type".[25][26] In a statement, Saga claimed that it had not given Balding copy control and that the interview was edited in conjunction with the author.[27]

Awards and assessment[edit]

Balding was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting and journalism.[28][29] In the same year, Balding was presented with the special BAFTA for her work on the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.[30]

Balding won the Royal Television Society's "Sports Presenter of the Year" in 2003 and "Presenter" in 2012. Also in 2003, she won the "Racing Journalist of the Year Award" and has followed up with the award for "Racing Broadcaster of the Year".

In December 2012, she was awarded the "Biography/Autobiography of the Year" award of the National Book Awards for My Animals and Other Family.[31]

She won an achievement award from the UK chapter of the Women in Film and Television in 2012 for her coverage of the Olympics and Paralympics.[32]

Balding was awarded the 2012 Sports Journalists' Association's annual British Sports Journalism Award for Sports Broadcaster of the Year (BBC and Channel 4).[citation needed]

In February 2013 she was assessed as being one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[33] and also won the award for Sports Presenter at the Television and Radio Industries Club Awards.[citation needed]

Her other awards include Attitude Awards TV Personality of the Year 2012, TRIC Sports Presenter of the Year 2013, British Equestrian Federation Outstanding Journalist of the Year 2014, First Women Awards Lifetime Achievement 2015 and Tatler magazines and the Horserace Writers' Association.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Balding formalised her relationship with Alice Arnold, then a BBC Radio 4 continuity announcer and newsreader, in September 2006 by entering into a civil partnership.[34] The couple lived with their Tibetan terrier, Archie.[35] In April 2015, she and Arnold married in a private ceremony.[36]

On 29 May 2009, Balding announced that she had thyroid cancer. She promised to be back on television covering the Epsom Derby, by the following Saturday. On 21 August 2009, she announced that the radioactive iodine had been successful with no signs of the cancer having spread.[citation needed]

In July 2010, Balding made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over an article by writer A. A. Gill in The Sunday Times that she felt had mocked her sexuality and appearance[37] and for which the newspaper refused to apologise.[38] The PCC found in her favour, judging that Gill had "refer[red] to the complainant's sexuality in a demeaning and gratuitous way".[39] In 2014, she was named in the top 10 on the World Pride Power list.[40]

After Liam Treadwell's Grand National victory on 4 April 2009, Balding interviewed him and made fun of his apparently bad teeth.[41] Balding later clarified on BBC's Have I Got News For You quiz that she believed Treadwell, who suffered from microdontia and hypodontia, to have had his teeth "kicked out" by a horse, a common injury suffered by jockeys, apologising again for her error. However, Treadwell stated that he was pleased with her comment, as a dentist offered to fix his teeth at no cost. "It was the best thing Clare ever said", Treadwell said.[42]

In 2014, Balding publicly backed Hacked Off and its campaign towards UK press self-regulation by "safeguarding the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable."[43][44][45]


Balding's matrilineal great-great-grandparents Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby and Lady Alice Montagu both descended from Henry VII. The earl's lineage can also be traced back to Sir Thomas Frankland. This makes Balding an 11-times-great-granddaughter of Oliver Cromwell.

She is also descended, via Joseph C. Hoagland, from Sarah Rapelje, the first woman of European descent born in what is now New York, to Dutch-settler parents.[46]

Charitable activity[edit]

Balding has been a presenter on Sport Relief since its inception in 2002. She also participated in a celebrity edition of The Apprentice to raise money for charity.[47] Sport Relief Does The Apprentice is part of the BBC's annual charity initiative and aired on 12 and 14 March 2008. "The Girls' team", which also included Louise Redknapp, Jacqueline Gold, Kirstie Allsopp and Lisa Snowdon, won the contest, raising over £400,000 from ticket sales and sales on the night of the big event at their shop.

In 2010, Balding became a patron of the British Thyroid Foundation.[48]

In 2015, Balding became an ambassador for Southampton FC's official charity, the Saints Foundation.[49]

She is also patron to a number of other charities including Riding for the Disabled, British Paralympic Association, Diversity Role Models, Retraining of Racehorses and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. Plus she is Vice-Patron for Injured Jockeys Fund and Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.

Rugby League[edit]

After fronting the BBC coverage of the sport for several years, Balding was appointed as the 30th president of the Rugby Football League in July 2020 succeeding former footballer Tony Adams.[50] Balding has stated that during her two-year tenure she wants to see the women's game become a professional sport.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clare Balding". Desert Island Discs. 12 January 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Clare Balding", interview on BBC Wales website
  3. ^ Miranda BBC Two, November 2010
  4. ^ "My Time At Cambridge" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2012.
  5. ^ Sale, Jonathan (1 July 2010). "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Clare Balding, BBC sports presenter". The Independent. London.
  6. ^ Montgomery, Sue (4 September 2010). "Priscilla Hastings: Racing trainer who bridged the gender gap in her sport". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  7. ^ a b "TheGenealogist featured article on Clare Balding". TheGenealogist. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Lyke Wake Walk, Series 30, Ramblings - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  9. ^ "The New Lyke Wake Club". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  10. ^ "The Dales Way, Part One, Series 28, Ramblings - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  11. ^ Penfold, P. (2014). Clare Balding's crowded hours. Dalesman Magazine – November 2014 edition.
  12. ^ Mahoney, Elisabeth (20 September 2012). "A week in radio: Ramblings with Clare Balding". London. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Wimbledon 2015: BBC highlights show Wimbledon 2Day with Clare Balding slammed by critics".
  14. ^ "Wimbledon: Balding backed by BBC despite Inverdale calls, 5 July 2017".
  15. ^ Britain by Bike – The Cotswolds BBC Four
  16. ^ "Clare Balding – Meet the Team – London 2012 Paralympics – Channel 4". Channel 4 Paralympics. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  17. ^ "BBC News – Clare Balding to present Channel 4 racing coverage". 14 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  18. ^ Scott-Elliot, Robin (25 October 2012). "Women in sport: Why unparalleled success of 2012 must not fade into history". London. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "The Queen and her passion for horses". 24 May 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via
  21. ^ "BBC - Clare Balding to leave Good Morning Sunday - Media Centre".
  22. ^ Ingle, Sean (12 March 2013). "Clare Balding shines as new Channel 4 anchor at Cheltenham Festival". Guardian UK. London. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  23. ^ "Clare Balding joins Viking with My Animals and Other Family". Book Trade Announcements. Archived from the original on 14 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  24. ^ Larman, Alexander (16 September 2012). "My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding – review". London. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  25. ^ Dougary, Ginny (1 October 2017). "How BBC star Clare Balding nicked my byline". The Observer. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  26. ^ Smith, Robert (2 October 2017). "Should PRs ever ask for copy approval? Debate rumbles over Clare Balding case". PR Week. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  27. ^ Mayhew, Freddie (2 October 2017). "Saga Magazine says it 'does not offer copy control' after row over Clare Balding cover feature". Press Gazette. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  28. ^ "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 9.
  29. ^ "Birthday Honours 2013: At a glance". BBC News. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Clare Balding: Special Award Recipient in 2013". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  31. ^ Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  32. ^ Frost, Vicky (7 December 2012). "Clare Balding honoured at Women in Film and Television awards". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  33. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Woman's Hour – The Power List 2013". BBC. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  34. ^ France, Louise (10 December 2006). "One year of being Mr and Mr". The Observer. London. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  35. ^ "The Tatler List". Tatler. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016.
  36. ^ "Clare Balding marries Alice Arnold –". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  37. ^ "Clare Balding makes Sunday Times sex jibe complaint". BBC News. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  38. ^ Caroline Davies Clare Balding complains to press watchdog over 'dyke' jibe, The Guardian, 30 July 2010
  39. ^ Clare Balding complaint over sexuality is upheld BBC News, 17 September 2010; Retrieved 17 September 2010
  40. ^ "World Pride Power List 2014". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015.
  41. ^ "Jockey on Balding teeth joke". BBC News. 6 April 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  42. ^ White, Jim (23 April 2009). "Clare Balding's jibe at Liam Treadwell's teeth pays off". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  43. ^ Szalai, Georg (18 March 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfonso Cuaron, Maggie Smith Back U.K. Press Regulation". The Hollywood Reporter.
  44. ^ Burrell, Ian (18 March 2014). "Campaign group Hacked Off urge newspaper industry to back the Royal Charter on press freedom". The Independent. London.
  45. ^ [1] Archived 19 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ "Clare Balding". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 14. Episode 3. 20 July 2017. BBC Television. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  47. ^ "Clare Balding to appear in Sport Relief Does The Apprentice for charity", Charities Aid Foundation, 28 February 2008; Retrieved 29 February 2008
  48. ^ Patrons Archived 5 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine British Thyroid Foundation
  49. ^ Southampton FC (2 October 2015). "Clare Balding visits Saints Foundation". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via YouTube.
  50. ^ "New RFL president Clare Balding wants women's game to become professional". The Guardian. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  51. ^ Tomas, Fiona (16 July 2020). "New RFL president Clare Balding vows to 'do something special' for women's rugby league". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2020.

External links[edit]

Preceded by RTS Television Sport Awards
Best Sports Presenter

Succeeded by