Clare Balding is not tempted by erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, but admits she has read Jilly Cooper's racy Riders THREE times



15:09 GMT, 28 August 2012

Clare Balding's brilliant stint as a presenter of the BBC's Olympic coverage won her an army of new fans and catapulted her to top of any TV executive's most wanted list.

The BBC and Channel 4 presenter has admitted that she has read Jilly Cooper's Riders novel three times

The BBC and Channel 4 presenter has admitted that she has read Jilly Cooper's Riders novel three times

Now TV's busiest woman is preparing to head back in to the Olympic park for two weeks as the presenter of Channel 4's daily 5.30pm Paralympic Games show with co-presenter Ade Adepitan.

So maybe it is not a surprise that in her precious down time the be-quiffed star likes to lose herself in a good old fashioned bonkbuster.

Asked in a recent interview whether
she has read Jilly Cooper's 1980s steamy showjumping novel Clare says: Yes, of course! About three times!'

And Fifty Shades of Grey 'No, I haven't. I'm not tempted.'

Unsurprising really: the lead character in the erotic Fifty Shades novel is a naive American virgin who falls head over heels with a handsome and kinky billionaire.

Clare meanwhile, has lived with her lesbian partner Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold for almost ten years, and as part of a civil partnership since 2006.

The showjumping background to the Riders storyline though is a subject a little closer to Clare's heart: the 41-year-old presenter started her broadcasting career presenting Royal Ascot highlights and she was clearly delighted to be arena-side in Greenwich to present the Olympic equestrian events.

In her typical down-to-earth way she told Heat magazine: 'For those that thought dressage was daft – and there were people that did – it's no more daft than cycling round and round in circles or swimming up and down a lane or running round in circles.

'All sport is daft. But it takes and awful lot to do it well and dressage is almost [email protected]@dy impossible.'

Highlight of Clare's inspired Olympic coverage included interviewing a jubilant and over emotional Bert le Clos after his son Chad won gold for South Africa, and carrying the flame through Newbury, Berkshire in the run up to the games.

But it was inventing the 'Mobot' victory move that Clare is the most proud of.

During the Sky 1 panel show A League of their Own host James Corden asked Team GB runner and show guest Mo Farah what his victory move would be,

Clare says: 'I said: “Do the M fro YMCA.” James absolutely loved it and then Mo tried it out and he liked it.

'The moment I'm proudest of was Usain Bolt doing the Mobot to Mo! And I'm watching thinking “I invented it!” Well, I didn't invent it the Village People did. But I am really proud of it.'

Clare Balding commentating for the BBC Olympics coverage with Mark Foster, left, and Ian Thorpe, centre

Clare Balding commentating for the BBC Olympics coverage with Mark Foster, left, and Ian Thorpe, centre


Set in the Cotswolds countryside, the book was the first of
Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles romance novels and delves in to the glamorous world
of the showjumping set.

First published in 1985, the novel features money and fame hungry showjumpers

First published in 1985, Riders features money hungry showjumpers

Rutshire is a fictional English county, and home to a beautiful clique of horse lovers who lie and cheat their way through the novel in their quest for money and fame.

Jake Lovell, the gypsy-born hero of the novel, born in to poverty,
has managed to rise to the top of the showjumping world but is
desperately seeking revenge for years of bullying at the hands of the
glamorous, but brutish aristocrat, Rupert Campbell-Black.

When Jake and Rupert meet again for the first time since school, old
rivalries are sparked back to life as they fight it out to prove who is
the greater horseman and perhaps more importantly, the greater lover.
Along the way, Jilly gives a peek into the lives of this close knit
community of top riders, their horses, grooms and families.

Readers see the
highs and lows of life in the equestrian world, but who will eventually
come out on top in the final showdown at the Los Angeles Olympics, and
will success ultimately lead to disaster for Jake

Riders was released in 1985, but the first draft of the book was written 15 years earlier in 1970.

Unfortunately Jilly left the manuscript on a number 22 London bus and it was lost forever, despite pleas from the Evening Standard for its safe return.

She said: 'It was awful, awful! But I think it's probably one of the best
books I ever wrote because the characters had been built up over 15