A Wyse gal: Rachel looks to a golden age

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - THE BIG STORY -

Thir­teen years af­ter she first met Tim Gred­ley, Rachel Wyse fi­nally fell for the man who shares her pas­sion. She spoke to Donal Lynch about TV suc­cess, crit­i­cism and find­ing hap­pi­ness

WHAT is it about Rachel Wy s e ? No t since Craig Doyle has a sports an­chor held quite this kind of cross-party fas­ci­na­tion. She seems to live an as­pi­ra­tional dream of meet­ing the big­gest sports stars in the world while en­joy­ing the high life in London. For some­one so crisply pro­fes­sional, so care­fully above the fray in her opin­ions, she has en­dured enor­mous scru­tiny and comment. Her love life has been cov­ered as though she were Tay­lor Swift. She hardly makes a move out of place through any of it; no comment, and a big smile. It just seems to blow like a storm around her — she has that per­fect news­reader qual­ity; sphinx-like and in­scrutable. It has helped her en­dure — she has been at Sky Sports News for seven years now — and has es­tab­lished her­self as one of the broad­caster’s bright­est stars which is no mean feat con­sid­er­ing its ros­ter of for­mer sport­ing greats. She fronts the chan­nel’s widely praised GAA cov­er­age over the sum­mer and has won warm re­views for her work.

“It’s been an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney, the last seven years,” the 32-year-old pre­sen­ter says. “I’ve been so lucky to do some­thing I love — that’s what I fo­cus on. It’s been such an amaz­ing learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Peo­ple are en­ti­tled to their opin­ions. I have my opin­ion, I’ll watch some­one on TV and go ‘I just don’t like them re­ally’. It’s not per­sonal, it’s just an opin­ion. Or I might say: she’s not nec­es­sar­ily the per­son I would have put in that role. Would I go on­line and vent that thought? Prob­a­bly not.”

Maybe she knows it’s not her, it’s us. Fe­male sports an­chors have turned out to be a cu­ri­ous barom­e­ter for sex­ism in the so­cial me­dia age. The overblown na­ture of the re­ac­tions to them — wit­ness Rachel Ri­ley re­cently re­sign­ing over the up­roar at her in­nocu­ous comment that Tot­ten­ham’s un­suc­cess­ful league ef­fort was “a bot­tle job” — is un­der­scored by the un­spo­ken sense that to some peo­ple, their very pres­ence as women — in an un­til-re­cently ex­clu­sively male field — is still con­tro­ver­sial.

If they say lit­er­ally any­thing which sounds like an opin­ion, it will be a sub­ject of threats and de­bate about whether they were just hired for their looks. Rachel Wyse has run the gaunt­let of some of this, and han­dled it with serene dig­nity. Per­haps to the av­er­age Irish per­son, she has a faintly aris­to­cratic whiff — a horsey-set girl done good — but to be Irish in the Bri­tish me­dia world is to be cu­ri­ously class­less, an un­threat­en­ing ad­van­tage. This is, per­haps, also why her range of sports runs the spec­trum from cricket to GAA. They don’t pi­geon­hole her. She’s equal parts Ladies’ Day and Hill 16.

“It’s im­por­tant to be ver­sa­tile in terms of what you can cover,” she ex­plains. “In the be­gin­ning, my boss was like ‘what’s your knowl­edge of cricket?’ and I had to say ‘ hon­estly, not much’. But then again, I think most of the coun­try was un­aware we even had a cricket team un­til they beat Eng­land in the World Cup. I got to know peo­ple who loved it and went to games and just sat on cricinfo.com all day. I think you can learn to love a sport. When you fol­low a per­son’s ca­reer, you be­come a bit in­vested in it.”

She is an im­age of an Irish per­son in London that gives com­fort amid all the Brexit para­noia. She refers to the city as a home from home. Her brother and sis­ter live there. She can’t imag­ine mov­ing “home, home” in the fore­see­able fu­ture. London is at the heart of ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on for her. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a strange and ter­ri­ble few months there. She was on her way home from her boyfriend’s house the day af­ter the Gren­fell Tower fire and saw the blaze on the sky­line. “I came back from Tim’s house the morn­ing af­ter the fire, where I live in Bat­tersea is by the river and then you’ve got Chelsea, Ful­ham and over to Kens­ing­ton, and you see the smoke ris­ing right in front of you. I could see it there on the sky­line. It was just hor­rific, it was the morn­ing af­ter so we un­der­stood by then what had hap­pened. It doesn’t look like enough has been done. Theresa May doesn’t seem to have, what’s the word, em­pa­thy.”

The crises that en­gulf London sit in stark re­lief to her own life, which seems to be in a golden age. Aside from the ca­reer, she is more set­tled in her per­sonal life. Tim is Tim Gred­ley — mul­ti­mil­lion­aire de­vel­oper and showjumper. They’ve been to­gether for a year now. They knew each other slightly years ago but it was only when they met up again in the mid­dle of last year that they be­gan a re­la­tion­ship.

“I met Tim 13 years ago at a horse show in Ca­van. I was jump­ing and he had horses. But then noth­ing hap­pened and all these years later, we met again. We weren’t in each other’s or­bits at all through the in­ter­ven­ing years. We just met up last year and it went from there. We’ve been to­gether a year now. It’s go­ing great, I’m very happy.”

In the spring, Rachel and Tim took a trip to Hong Kong to­gether to watch his horse Big Or­ange take part in races at Sha Tin. They also dressed up for a date to the Race­horse Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Awards in De­cem­ber. And the cou­ple have shared pic­tures of them to­gether in the past few weeks, with Rachel post­ing an In­sta­gram snap of Gred­ley hug­ging her.

Aside from be­ing sporty, Gred­ley has been called one of the most el­i­gi­ble bach­e­lors in Bri­tain and is one of the rich­est young men in the coun­try — his for­tune tops €224m. To say he is a catch might be un­der­stat­ing it. Did any of her girl­friends tease her about how minted he was?

“No, that has never come up in con­ver­sa­tion at all,” she re­sponds.

Is man­ag­ing the dis­tance a prob­lem — she is trav­el­ling ev­ery week for the four months of the GAA cham­pi­onships? “If you want to make some­thing work in life, there’s al­ways time to fit some­body in. It works for us. We just click and get on well. Of course, he’s met my friends and we’ve lots of mu­tual friends. It’s nice to have sim­i­lar in­ter­ests.”

Grow­ing up in Black­rock, Co Dublin, Rachel was mad about horses — her fa­ther was a judge in the Dublin Horse Show. She went to St An­drew’s Col­lege and com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally at show jump­ing. She was a hard-work­ing stu­dent who left with what she de­scribes as a “de­cent” Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate, and went on to com­plete a de­gree in busi­ness stud­ies. But she still han­kered for horses and only took a job at the lo­cal Dublin City Chan­nel be­cause she pre­sumed it would leave her with

TO­GETHER: Rachel is loved-up with showjumper boyfriend Tim Gred­ley

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