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Clare Balding split image with Claire and wife Alice Arnold© BBC/Shutterstock

Clare Balding's private life: from famous wife to horse jockey career and cancer battle

The broadcaster is married to former newsreader Alice Arnold

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
July 8, 2024
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Clare Balding is one of the most recognisable faces on our TV screens. After joining the BBC back in 1994, the broadcaster has become synonymous with the channel's sports coverage and has fronted various major events from the Olympic Games to the annual Boat Race and most recently, Wimbledon.

But what about Clare's life away from the cameras? Find out all we know, from her career as a horse jockey to her marriage to former newsreader Alice Arnold. 

WATCH: Clare Balding took over from Sue Barker as Wimbledon host - see her send-off

Clare's career as a jockey

While Clare, 53, is best known for her illustrious broadcasting career, she had a very different job before joining the BBC. From 1988 to 1993, Balding was a leading amateur flat jockey and Champion Lady Rider in 1990.

Having grown up in a horse-racing family, Clare has always been passionate about the sport. Her father, Ian, is a well-known horse trainer, who trained 1971 Derby winner Mill Reef, while her brother Andrew is also a trainer. 

Clare Balding as a child© @clarebalding/Instagram
Clare fell in love with horse riding as a young girl

On her lifelong love of riding, Clare previously told Sheer Luxe: "I loved the feeling that there was something on this planet I could do well. Riding also had that sense of freedom and the adrenaline rush of doing something that was slightly dangerous, like jumping things that were a bit bigger than you might consider normally. It was just fun, really fun."

Home life with wife Alice Arnold

Clare and Alice, 62, have been together for over two decades. After first meeting back in 1999, the pair bonded over their love of sports and were initially just friends before the relationship turned romantic in 2002. 

Like Clare, Alice is also a broadcaster. She joined the BBC in 1989 and worked as a continuity announcer and newsreader for over twenty years until 2012. 

Clare Balding and Alice Arnold pose outside the Royal Albert Hall© Shutterstock
Clare and Alice first met in 1999

When they first met, Clare hadn't come out about her sexuality. 

"Alice explained to me that if you have a relationship that is not as open as a straight couple, then you are contributing to that feeling of shame," the journalist told The Times in 2018. "I was hiding something and that impacted on my family life and my work as a presenter. Coming out had a huge impact — suddenly I was happy and comfortable."

While Alice was a little apprehensive about being in a relationship with a public figure, she soon realised that she and Clare were "good sounding boards" for one another. 

Clare Balding and her wife Alice© @clarebalding/Instagram
The couple live in Chiswick

"To begin with I was especially concerned that Clare was in the media spotlight," Alice admitted. "I didn't want to be with someone who needed looking after. I didn’t want the imbalance of being the housewife to her success. 

"As I got to know her, I realised she is not high maintenance at all. In fact, because we both come from a media background, we are good sounding boards for each other. We are very honest in our guidance of each other."

Clare and Alice entered into a civil partnership at Chiswick House in 2006 and later tied the knot in 2015 at the same location. 

Clare Balding and Alice Arnold at Grosvenor House© Shutterstock
Clare and Alice met at the BBC

Sharing a glimpse into their married life, Clare revealed that the pair enjoy walking their dog near their home in Chiswick, London. "At home, she's the organised one who books holidays, makes sure the washing is done and looks after our garden," she explained. "I have to get the spiders out of the bath.

"Neither of us is very good at cooking, so we eat out a lot. We make the most of every minute we have together as I'm often away. Walking the dog at Chiswick House is a favourite."

Clare's cancer diagnosis 

Clare was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009. After having her thyroid removed and undergoing radioactive iodine treatment, the presenter got the all-clear in 2011. 

Appearing on BBC Radio 2's French and Saunders programme at the time, Clare said: "I had to have a little operation just before Christmas to take out a nasty little lymph node and there was a worry that I might have to have more treatment.

Wimbledon presenter Clare Balding© Helen Murray
Clare was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009

"But I had a lovely letter from my oncologist just after Christmas saying, 'Hurrah, no more treatment', so I'm very happy about that," she revealed, adding: "2011 is going to be a good one."

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