Adele Mulrennan switching reins to ITV as York’s Ebor Festival looms

Adele Mulrennan with Ed Chamberlain and the ITV team (Picture: ITV)Adele Mulrennan with Ed Chamberlain and the ITV team (Picture: ITV)
Adele Mulrennan with Ed Chamberlain and the ITV team (Picture: ITV)
“When I was at school, I was the shyest little kid ever,” begins Adele Mulrennan.

“I do sometimes wonder how on earth I am now about to do what I am going to do.”

If what she is about to do would take her younger self by surprise, then it should come as no shock to the modern-day Mrs Mulrennan, or anyone for that matter, given she has made a habit of seizing the opportunities presented to her, throughout her life and racing career.

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At the Ebor Festival at York next week, Adele Mulrennan will provide expert analysis as part of ITV’s live racing team on Knavesmire. It is a significant step up to be part of a terrestrial broadcast team for a woman who only started as a racing presenter for Go Racing in Yorkshire four years ago.

She has made a couple of guest appearances on ITV’s The Opening Show as well as a dry run at Ascot last week, all designed at preparing her for a regular television slot.

“I suppose when you’re talking about something you love, it’s easier to talk about,” she says of the challenge facing her. “That’s probably why I enjoy it so much.

“It all went well at Ascot last week and the feedback was good, so I’ve got the call-up for York.

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“I’m at the stage where I’m comfortable with it – it helps having done a couple of bits with ITV already. They’ve broken me in ready for next week.”

What also helps is her familiarity with and an unwavering affection for York Racecourse, the scene of her greatest triumph as a jockey on board Masta Plasta in the Scottish Sprint Cup in 2008, and the track where husband Paul has celebrated two victories in the Nunthorpe Stakes, one of the highlights of the annual Ebor Festival.

The Mulrennan name is one steeped in Yorkshire racing.

Adele was that shy teenager who just happened to live on the same West Yorkshire street as a riding stables.

Many others did, but she saw it as opportunity to change her life.

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“Dominic Elsworth’s mum taught me to ride there,” she recalls. “As I got little bit older, Dominic dragged me to Sue and Harvey Smith’s to ride out.

“I stayed there for a year. Harvey said I was too talented and too small to be riding out with the jumpers, so he sent me to Richard Fahey for the summer to ride.

“I had my first ride there, but ended up being an apprentice to Mick Easterby, where I had my first winner. But I had most of my winners for the late Dandy Nicholls – he was a great boss.”

Then life got in the way. Adele met another jockey in Paul, they married, had daughter Scarlett, and perspectives changed.

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“I was actually still riding for a little bit while I was pregnant in those early few weeks,” she remembers.

“I just thought I would have Scarlett and come back racing again. Once you’ve got a young child to mind, and those sleepless nights, I soon realised it wasn’t going to happen.

“I had to take a back step and support Paul, he was the one off riding every day. I knew I wanted to stay involved with riding so I kept my eye open for little jobs which is how the opportunity came about with Go Racing In Yorkshire.”

Naturally, that opportunity was taken, one supplemented by media training through the Jockey Education Training Scheme and one with Racing TV.

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“As part of my job with Go Racing I have to do tipping talks, and every year William Derby asks me to host his box at York, which is usually where all the racing people are,” she says. “I didn’t realise that the boss of ITV Racing was in the room; I tipped the first four winners and second in the last race on Juddmonte Day. They really liked me and I got the phone call the next day.”

Giving women a chance is not a new mantra in racing. Across the board, it is as inclusive a sport as any – in fact, in which other sport do women compete against men on an equal footing?

“If you’re good at something, no matter what gender you are, that will eventually shine through,” believes Mulrennan.

“It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, provided you get the chance to prove it. But girls do have to work harder, particularly on their fitness. Girls are never going to be as strong as guys.

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“Look at me, I stopped to have a family, and that’s what most women do. Most women meet somebody, they want to settle down and have a family. You’ve got a handful who are so career driven they will stay in.”

Is it easier now for women to get involved in racing?

“If the weights don’t change, and they don’t go up, we may have more women riding purely because they’re naturally lighter than some of the men. It must be the only sport where women are up against men on an equal footing. And I hope it brings a larger women’s audience in.”

ITV Racing will broadcast five races every day from the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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