The National Horseracing College in Doncaster has been a corporate member of The Yorkshire Society for a number of years.  We interviewed Chief Executive Colonel Stephen Padgett OBE, to find out more about the College and his passion for Yorkshire.

Col. Stephen Padgett OBE, Chief Executive, The National Horseracing College

The National Horseracing College (NHC) offers a wide range of courses to meet the staffing needs of the British racing industry.

Well known both nationally and internationally in horse racing circles as a centre of training excellence; it is one of just two such establishments in this Country.  It identifies, encourages and nurtures talent, particularly for young people wanting to start careers in horse racing and associated work areas.  As the NHC provides full residential facilities, its students come from across the length and breadth of the UK and some also from overseas.

The College’s intensive, 12 week residential Foundation Course trains students to care for and to ride thoroughbred racehorses, teaches them about the racing industry and provides a raft of general life-skills too.  Care is taken to ensure students are well-informed about what to expect before starting and they benefit from close support and guidance throughout their training.  The winning formula means that, although admission is not selective and is determinedly inclusive, well over 80% graduate and of these 96% find employment in exciting careers in the horse racing industry.  Many continue their education with the College by pursuing apprenticeships during their employment.

Some of the world’s greatest racing professionals have passed through the College, including multiple Group 1 winners Adrian Nicholls and Hayley Turner (Britain’s most successful female jockey).

As Stephen Padgett explained – “When race day comes, millions of people across the world are watching the spectacle.  Horseracing is an international sport and is the second largest spectator sport in the UK, but for the 100,000 people working in the British Horseracing Industry, it’s the culmination of years of preparation – from bookmakers to journalists, chefs to jockeys, racing grooms, racecourse managers and trainers, the roles and career opportunities are endless.”

As well as delivering training courses, the NHC also has some of the best equestrian facilities that Yorkshire has to offer.  Regularly inspected and endorsed by both the British Horseracing Authority and the British Horse Society, its facilities include indoor and outdoor riding arenas, grass and all-weather gallops, three stable yards and state of the art racing simulators.  A brand new all-weather canter ring will be added this summer.

Founded in the 1980s by South Yorkshire County Council as an initiative to improve opportunities for young people in the area, moves to professionalise and improve training for the horse racing industry led to it expanding its remit, first as the Northern Racing College and then to become the National Horseracing College.

Stephen Padgett explained “Our title now describes much more appropriately the scope and scale of what we do.  We are proud that the NHC is recognised as one of the best racing schools in the world and that we have the good fortune to be situated here in the heart of Yorkshire.”

We asked Stephen about how the pandemic has affected the Yorkshire racing industry and he was positive on how resilient it had been. He expanded “Despite what has been happening around Covid, the racing industry in Yorkshire has fared better than many of us could have hoped.  Yorkshire’s 9 racecourses have continued to hold race meetings, all be it without crowds, allowing many of the ancillary elements of the industry that contribute so much to Yorkshire’s economy to continue.  Most of the industry has survived reasonably well and is ready to spring back as greater normality returns”.

Colonel Padgett had spent 37 years in the Army before settling back in Yorkshire and looking for a new role.  His skills with leading people and organisation were perfectly suited to the role of Chief Executive of the National Horseracing College.  As a proud Yorkshireman, we asked Stephen what living and working in Yorkshire meant to him.

“Although I enjoyed living and working in interesting and sometimes quite exciting places around the world during my military career, I appreciate Yorkshire even more now I’ve returned.  In particular, I love the industrial heritage of the region and how it intertwines with our beautiful countryside.  This architectural grandeur sits so well in our landscape and is something I have not seen anywhere else in the world”.

When asked about what he most enjoys about his role at the College, he immediately stated “whilst I do love being around horses, it’s the joy of working with such passionate and committed people”. Something which Yorkshire is famous for!

To find out more about the National Horseracing College, to explore the range of courses or to book into attend one of the monthly Open Days – visit


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