Clare Balding in top form at Cheltenham Literature Festival
TELEVISION presenter Clare Balding said she can't wait to start her new job in Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
The popular broadcaster told the Cheltenham Literature Festival that her first shift with Channel 4 will be at her "favourite" racecourse on January 1.
Balding, who drew widespread praise for her presenting duties with the BBC during the London Olympics, will be working with Channel 4 from 2013, starting with the New Year's Day meeting at Prestbury Park.
The switch in channels is because the BBC is no longer covering racing, meaning the Grand National will switch to their rival.
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Balding was at The Forum, Montpellier Gardens, to promote her memoir, My Animals And Other Family.
She told the packed auditorium that Cheltenham was her favourite racecourse.
"It has the best backdrop, the best atmosphere, the best people, the best winning enclosure, the best run to the line. I will be here on New Year's Day, it will be my first day of work with Channel 4," she said.
Balding, 41, is a former amateur jockey and her father Ian trained horses for the Queen.
She read extracts from her book involving royal encounters – including the day her sausage shot across the table at the Queen, and cutting up Princess Anne in a race.
But as well as the humorous anecdotes, Balding also had a serious message.
She said she was bathing in the reflected glory of Britain's Olympic success, enjoying every minute of her life. But she also knows what it's like when things go wrong.
Her on-air comment to Grand National winning jockey Liam Treadwell about "getting his teeth done" prompted a BBC apology in 2009.
And in 2011, she was finally giving the all-clear for thyroid cancer.
She said: "The Olympic legacy is over to you now. Do something positive and fun."