Ontoawinner will be doing a series off Q&A sessions with people across the racing industry. We start with Simon Mapletoft who is a leading horse racing presenter on Sky Sports Racing, writer for attheracess.com and ownership ambassador for Great British Racing. Simon excels in his knowledge of all-weather racing and is set for a busy winter as he prepares for the All-Weather Championship series getting into full flow.
Where did your interest in racing come from?
My parents often took me racing as a small boy. The highlight was our annual trip to the Ebor Festival at York.
What inspired you to become a racing presenter?
Watching live sports coverage on TV as a kid fascinated me and it was always my dream to become a sportswriter and broadcaster. I loved football and racing and was fortunate enough to graduate from one passion to another, working firstly as a football reporter for BBC Radio Nottingham and my local papers.
What does a typical race day look like for you?
At least 2 hours researching the day’s card, analysing form and identifying possible interviews and story lines before talking through the broadcast with my producer. For each race I take a close look at the leading contenders in the paddock before previewing and reviewing the action. Then I interview the winning jockey and possibly trainer and/or owner if time permits. During racing I also record newsworthy interviews with jockeys/trainers who have big race runners later in the week. The broadcast usually ends with a review of the day’s highlights.
What is your favourite memory in racing?
I grew up watching Red Rum win his three Nationals and loved Snowy Wainwright’s magnificent two-year-old Music Boy, so to be at York when he won the Gimcrack in the 70s was unforgettable.
Which horse are you looking forward to most this NH season?
As much as I love jump racing almost all of my time in the winter is dedicated to providing the narrative to the All-Weather Championships, but Nicky Henderson’s brilliant Shishkin is the one I’m most excited about.
If you didn’t work in racing, what would you do?
I’d probably like to go back to my roots as a football commentator.
What would you change to improve racing?
It’s a complex issue but I’d try to find a sustainable way of improving prize money, particularly at the lower level. It’s key to retaining existing owners and attracting new ones to our great sport.
If you have spare time, what do you do?
I’m a keen cyclist and enjoy working out at my local gym. I love long walks with the dogs and have pledged to get back on the golf course next spring.
What advice would you give to any budding journalist?
Aim to get as much practical work experience as you can – it looks good on your CV and can present opportunities. Keep on pushing at as many doors as possible. If you’re lucky like I was, one might just open.
We would like to thank Simon for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with Ontoawinner.