Stephen Wallis has a lifelong interest in horseracing and cricket and merges the two sports through his Paddock and Pavilion Podcast. A member of The National Horse Racing Museum team, he is very committed to supporting diversity and giving airtime to issues faced by professional sportspeople.
When I left school, I always wanted to be a sports journalist but as I was unable to get a job in that field I drifted into banking for the next 30 years.
However, inspired by Marguerite, a close friend, we decided to enroll for a Broadcast Journalism course at West Suffolk College at Bury St Edmunds in September 2019. We studied filming using mobile phones to create short stories, and for my own specialist project I decided I wanted to do a podcast series on horseracing and cricket, my two biggest sporting loves. I liked talking to people about sport and some people have said I have a good voice for radio.
My original connection with horseracing is via my family. Both sides have connections with bookmakers. My grandfather, my father for a short time, and my maternal great uncles were all bookmakers. I was also taken to the races at a young age with my parents to Newmarket, Great Yarmouth and Fakenham, the latter usually on Easter Mondays. Soon after, I was hooked and followed all the major races on the Flat and jumps. I also like history, which goes well with horseracing and cricket and, like many racing fans I can quote Derby and Cheltenham Gold Cup winners.
Engaging with a range of voices
I have worked part-time at The National Horse Racing Museum for the past nine years but the Paddock and The Pavilion started in early summer last year. My first guest was Rab Havlin, a key member of John Gosden’s team at Clarehaven while my first podcast edition featured Gaia Boni, the Italian ballerina who became an apprentice jockey, who now rides for Nigel Tinkler.
The theme of the series has been to speak to each guest about their career, their first winner and some of their favourites, although the podcast has evolved over the months and extended to include popular topics and areas of interest. The range of guests has been wide from the inspiring Sulekha Varma, the Clerk of the Course at Aintree racecourse, Craig Witheford a Doctor Dolittle of horseracing and the raconteur of racing, Richard Pitman. In the Pavilion, I have interviewed Roland Butcher, the first Black player to play Test cricket for England and locally John ‘The Dentist’ Maynard, the new head coach at Newmarket CC.
Both sports need to support diversity
I have aimed to highlight the need for more diversity in the two sports and interviewed Kanane Francis from Leicester, known as ‘the urban jockey’ who after starting out at the Urban Equestrian Academy, then graduating at the British Racing School is now working at Joseph Parr’s stable in Newmarket. Ebony Rainford Brent, the first black woman to play cricket for England also featured, talking about her African Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme.
One of my most popular recent podcasts was with Natalie O’Rourke, the Manager of Park Lane Stables in Teddington. The small family-run inner city riding stable came to prominence when trying to raise £1m with their crowdfunding ‘Save our Stables’ campaign. Through some dedicated hard work by Natalie and her team they reached their target ahead of their 25th February deadline.
Join me and my next set of guests
The lockdowns have highlighted mental health issues in life and a popular podcast ‘A Man of Hope’ featured Simon Bailey, The National Chaplain for horseracing in the UK, who spoke about the work he does to support jockeys and all racing staff. Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Tom Eaves and conditional jockey Jamie Neild highlighted the valuable support given to them by the Professional Jockeys Association. This important area was also discussed on the cricketing side when I spoke to Yorkshire CCC player Josh Poysden about cricket’s Talk to Teammates initiative.
Several of the podcasts have been broadcast on the BBC upload series on Radio Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. I am always looking for interesting stories that engage with the listeners and future racing guests lined up include the former National Hunt jockey and well-known sculptor Phillip Blacker; Newmarket trainers Ilka Gansera Leveque and John Berry, and an ‘Ask Richard’ about the Grand National special with Richard Pitman ahead of the worlds’ most famous race.
Marguerite was the first of them and she has also played a key role in the PR and marketing of the podcast via Margaux Films Ltd. The podcast is available on Apple podcast, Google, Soundcloud, Spotify and Stitcher and I usually release my episodes every Sunday. @ThePaddandPav