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Known for her work with the Racing Post and prominent presence on Twitter, this feature focuses on getting to know 24-year-old Maddy Playle, her journey into racing journalism, and how she fell in love with the sport.

Playle was shortlisted for the Alan Lee Trophy for Emerging Talent at last year’s Horserace Writers and Photographers Awards. We will undoubtedly see more of what she is capable of in years to come.

  • How did you initially get interested in racing/was your goal always to work as a racing journalist?

Not at all. I had nothing to do with racing as a child and only got involved when I was around 14 and stumbled upon the Morning Line by chance. I didn’t know what was going on or being said, but I soon became hooked and spent my time trying to teach myself and learn as much as possible. I have always enjoyed creative writing, and I got some work experience at the Racing Post while doing my A Levels. When I finished school, I managed to join the company as an intern, so it all worked out well.

  • Have you ever considered going into a different sport?

No. I was pretty rubbish at sports in school, but I’ve always enjoyed watching it, and I think doing that gives you a good perspective on racing. I’ve always loved being around horses so when I discovered a passion for racing, going into the sport in some way made complete sense. 

  • How long have you been working at the Racing Post now? What is your favourite and most challenging part of your job?

I’ve been here for over five years, which is hard to believe! It sounds simple, but my favourite parts are being around horses and the people who look after them. I love trying to tell people’s stories; it’s a real privilege and very satisfying when you get it right. So many people in the sport are fantastic, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still feel like a bit of an outsider sometimes. I’m quite hard on myself in general, so I’ll usually find a way to be dissatisfied with most things I’ve done.

  • It’s well known that Thistlecrack is one of your favourite horses; what drew you to him?

His pure power blew me away. He was just relentless and so enthusiastic, too. It all came so naturally to him. The year he was the champion staying hurdler, I was falling in love with the sport, and he fed it even more. I also love how ambitiously he campaigned; despite looking unbeatable over hurdles, his connections kept to their word and sent him chasing. It also helps that every time I’ve seen him in the flesh, he’s been an absolute sweetheart, which is quite rare for someone so talented.

  • Are there any horses in training you’ve taken a keen interest in?

There’s a long list! The bloodstock side of things interests me, so I’m always looking for the newest big star or the best-value sire to whom I would send my imaginary mares. I’m a close follower of international racing, particularly in Japan and Australia, and I try to keep my eye on it as much as I can.

  • What is your favourite racecourse/meeting to attend and why?

I’m a jumps girl at heart and I really enjoy Chepstow’s Silver Trophy meeting. It comes at my favourite part of the season as there’s so much unknown ahead of us and it often throws up some really talented horses. The course is testing and fair and there’s a great atmosphere. I’d thoroughly recommend going if you haven’t already.

  • If there was one race you had to watch on repeat what would it be and why?

I think I’ve watched Thistlecrack’s King George many, many times. Funnily enough some honourable mentions come in that race too – Kauto Star’s final King George was epic, while I love Edredon Bleu’s win in the race too.

  • What do you love most about racing?

The horses. They never cease to amaze me.

  • If there was one thing you could change about the industry, what would it be?

The sport is facing a number of challenges at the moment, including the impending gambling review. A lot of my concerns, like small field sizes, poor prize-money, lack of competitive action, bleed into one, and there isn’t a straightforward solution. I think we’ve already reached the point where some of the racing is very diluted and I don’t think it’s healthy to have the current level of dominance from a select group of people. I hope we see significant, structural change before too long.

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