Redcar's racecourse presenter, Adele Mulrennan, talks to PETER BARRON about going from humble beginnings to becoming a jockey and ending up as a valued part of the ITV Racing team. Married to top flat jiockey, Paul Mulrennan, she's a mum to Scarlett, and is also a Go Racing In Yorkshire raceday presenter at York, Catterick, Thirsk, Ripon, Beverley, Wetherby, and Pontefract...
Where does your passion for horses comes from?
I moved from Bradford to a council estate in Otley when I was primary school age, and there just happened to be a riding school up the road. I’d walk up from school and work in the stables, getting experience by feeding and mucking out the ponies.
I didn’t start riding until I was 13. There was a pony that everyone borrowed to use as a ‘lawnmower’ to keep their grass down. We had him in our garden one day, I just jumped on his back, and I was hooked.
What were your racing highlights?
I was taught to ride by Josie Elsworth, mother of the jockey Dominic Elsworth. I took to it very naturally. Dominic suggested I should ride racehorses and I started riding out with Sue and Harvey Smith on Baildon Moor.
I was too small for the jumpers they trained, so I moved to Flat trainer, Richard Fahey, at Malton. My first winner was at Ripon, on a horse called Zarova, trained by Mick Easterby. I went on to have more than 100 rides as an apprentice.
My biggest win came in the Scottish Sprint Cup in 2008 on a horse, trained by Dandy Nicholls, called Masta Plasta. The race is normally held at Musselburgh, but it was switched to York that year while work was being carried out. There were 40,000 people on The Knavesmire that day and the race was televised.
Another highlight was riding Masta Plasta on Derby Day at Epsom the same year. We didn’t win but it was an unforgettable experience.
Do you still ride?
Yes, I ride out over the winter for several northern trainers. I love being part of a team and seeing the horses develop. It’s a great way for me to keep in touch. I also have my own horse, called Hugo.
What do you most love about your job?
When I’m raceday presenting, I love the variety of the people I meet. Race sponsors can range from someone celebrating a golden wedding, to big business owners.
I was thrilled when the chance came along to be part of the ITV Racing team. Lockdown delayed things to start with but, when racing got going again, I did my first day at Ascot, and it’s progressed from there.
I love being part of a great team, where everyone has different strengths. I hope what I bring is a knowledge of the horses and being able to talk about them in a way that connects with the viewers.
It obviously also helps to be married to a top jockey because that adds to the insight I can give.
Do you have a favourite racecourse?
I’ve got to be careful here because I work for a lot of them and I love the friendliness of Redcar! That said, Ripon will always have a place in my heart because I had my first ride there, and so will York because it was the scene of my biggest win.
What’s a perfect day off from work?
It’s important to spend time with Scarlett when I get a day off. She enjoys taking her pony, Sunny, to shows, so I go with her whenever possible. Otherwise, you’ll find us hacking the horses along the bridlepaths around Boroughbridge.
Where do you like to eat out?
The Wensleydale Heiffer, at West Witton, in Wensleydale. It’s a lovely atmosphere and the food is to die for – especially the Sunday dinners!
What is your favourite place to visit?
Paul’s family are from the hustle and bustle of London, so when they visit, we like to take them somewhere peaceful. A perfect day out would be a picnic at Studley Royal, near Ripon. With the herd of deer, it’s just stunning.
What are you reading?
Not surprisingly, I usually read racing biographies. Currently, it’s ‘Sprint King’, which is the story of the late jockey and trainer David ‘Dandy’ Nichols.
Who was your biggest inspiration?
I came from a family that didn’t have much and my parents, Trevor and Lorna, instilled a real work ethic in me.
Mum died six years ago, and she was amazing. She worked so hard for the family – whether as a dinner lady, cleaner, or working in the pub – and always supported everything I did.
It’s so sad she’s not around to see me on TV because she’d have been incredibly proud.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Without doubt, it’s Scarlett. With Paul and I having such hectic schedules, she’s had to be independent, and she’s such a great kid. She wants to get into pony racing so, who knows, we might have another jockey in the family.
What’s the best thing about living in the North?
The people and the countryside. I’m a proud Yorkshire lass and I feel blessed to live amongst the friendliest folk, amid the most beautiful surroundings.
Wellies or heels?
Wellies! I spend too much time in heels – I can’t wait to get them off!
- This interview features in the My North section of the latest edition of Living magazine