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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

'I want more followers than Matt Chapman and to be compared to Big Mac!'

The Racing Blogger, 33, takes the RPSunday hotseat

Stephen Power: better known as the Racing Blogger
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What advice would you give your ten-year-old self?
I would say to believe in my dreams and not be too hard on myself. Don't be so critical, patience is key. 

What's the best bet you've ever had?
My best bet was a Lucky 63 at Cheltenham when the legend Istabraq won his first Champion Hurdle. I won 14k with my granny Mary Power. I was only 15 at the time, so she had to place the bet for me – I did pick the winners though. It's been all downhill since.

If you could play any sport professionally, which would it be and why?
I trained with the Queens Park Harries athletics club from the age of 5 to 21. I ran the 800m, 5km and 10km. I always dreamed of being an 800m runner or a midfield footballer like Roy Keane. Unfortunately my health took a hard kicking at a young age and I had to retire with immediate effect, but if I could choose one sport it would be boxing. The gladiator in me screams for centre stage, lights, camera, action. I love the hard training and clean way of living. Boxing is truly the most action-packed sport there is. It's You vs Him, all out war – I love that. I honestly regret not going to a boxing club in my early years as I believe I could have been a champion.

You're more and more busy with racing – how do you find time to fit in the day job?
It's becoming a struggle, I must be honest, but trying to achieve something great takes sacrifice. I'm not afraid of hard work. Miss Blogger ain't happy! 

What do you think racing does best?
Racing brings together a small group of people who all embrace the same thing: a passion for horseracing. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, the Sport of Kings welcomes all on course to enjoy the unique atmosphere that is in my opinion one of a kind. Going racing with friends and family is always a terrific day, especially over the jumps. I've made so many new friends through racing it's quite humbling.

What is the one thing you would change about racing to encourage more young people to get involved?
I would revamp the youth effect – racing must wise up and wise up fast. Move with the times and understand the world is changing – racing cannot stay set in stone. We need young people who love the sport to be figureheads the average racing fan can relate to. We need to spread the word that racing is not just for old people, or a boring sport – it's a terrific day out that raises so many emotions and offers so much fun. I believe bloggers should have open access to promote the sport we all love in a great light – social media is the future.

What is your earliest racing memory?
I was sitting on my gran's floor playing with my Power Rangers, when all of a sudden I heard her scream at the TV 'ahh go on, go on for feck's sake'. I looked at her eyes lighting up – my gran had £50 to win on a 10-1 shot. She was a shrewd punter, not like me. We went to the bookies to collect the winnings together. I walked in and saw all these old men smoking and betting. The bookie counted out £550 and my gran gave me £20 – I was hooked for life there and then. I wanted some of the action. A young Racing Blogger was born.

Which country would you most like to go racing in that you haven't yet?
I'd love to go to America for the Breeders' Cup. Everyone says it's truly amazing and a must do in this lifetime.

Jumps or Flat?
Jumps 199 per cent. The thrill of seeing Kauto Star jumping the last in the King George, Denman charging towards you, Istabraq pinging hurdles for fun at Cheltenham. The Flat just can't compare, I'm afraid. We grow with our National Hunt horses over six to eight years, they become such legends every winter. The Flat horses being retired at two and three just takes away the magic for me. Nothing compares to that electric winter feel at a jumps course when the crowd are buzzing. I love National Hunt racing.

How long does your hairstyle take to do each day?
Yes, I know – my hairstyle is tragic. #PrayForBlogger. But it’s 20 seconds done and dusted! I’m open to suggestions by the way . . .

What's your biggest ambition in racing?
Now that's a tough question. I want more followers on Twitter than Matt Chapman and to be compared to racing royalty Nick Luck and Big Mac one day! I'd love to work on TV as a presenter, bringing racing to life for all the people at home. I want to show them what they're missing, I want racing to be fun to watch and I believe I'm the man for the job.

And outside of racing?
I just want to be happy and be at peace with myself more often than not – something I've always struggled with if I'm honest. Along with that I'd like to educate the nation on how to be healthier and fitter. Nutrition and fitness can be so simple with the right education – I love changing lives and helping people live longer.

What is your worst habit?
Wasting time on social media. I fall asleep watching Peep Show most nights. Miss Blogger has threatened to bin my mobile soon!

If you could meet one person, past or present, who would it be?
Arnold Schwarzenegger. The guy is simply a legend, from nothing to everything. His workrate and hunger is just inspiring. What a life he has led. Seven times Mr Olympia, inspiring a nation of new fitness bunnies. A Hollywood superstar barely able to talk English at first yet he conquered Hollywood ("I'll be back"), Governor of California – it's just insane what you can do when you truly believe in yourself. The man is a legend among men.

What is your most treasured possession?
My health. I take it very seriously as I was wheelchair-bound at 13 and unable to walk for six months at the age of 26. I honestly believe health is wealth – if you were born healthy you should feel blessed.

How do you relax away from racing?
I love going out with Miss Blogger and drinking coffee. We both love to explore new things, hence the fact we have travelled the world together three times. Coffee, travel and Peep Show are truly good things in life.

When was the last time you backed an odds-against shot?
Today [Wednesday] at Ascot. Blue Point for the boys in blue at a tasty 2-1. Blogger believes a favourite a day keeps the missus happy!

Do you buy food if it doesn't have a yellow sticker on it?
Yes, if I must, and it breaks my heart to pay full price – I love beating Waitrose and getting bargains.

What is the strangest/funniest thing you have seen on a racecourse?
The strangest thing was definitely people asking me to do a Snapchat at Cheltenham for their friends. The funniest was at Aintree, where the amount of ladies' cleavage on show was truly spectacular. Once a year is simply not enough!

Who do you most admire from racing?
I always loved Big Mac growing up as a kid – outspoken and brash. All the jewellery and funny hats, he was a real character who people either loved or hated, a bit like Bloggsy. I remember stalking him as a teenager trying to get on TV behind him – epic days!

The Racing Blogger is a big Big Mac fan (the man, not the burger)

What's your biggest fear?
Backing another odds-on loser. Being serious for a moment, not being able to walk. I was born with a severe condition at birth that I have battled my entire life. My right leg fails to return blood back up my body. I recently suffered four blood clots and was told I require major surgery again. I hate the idea that my freedom will be taken away from me, it drives me completely and utterly mad.

Do you have a nickname?
Blogger, Bloggsy, RB – I'm no longer Stephen. My middle name is Roy, but you didn't hear that from me, okay?

What's the best reply you've had to a tweet?
The amount of legendary tweets I've received is just jawdropping. One guy threatened to break my legs if I tipped another loser. That was quite the LOL [laugh out loud] moment.

Best advice for dealing with Twitter trolls?
Twitter trolls: come at me. Honestly, they can't bother you unless you let them. Remember, your mindset is your safety guard against everything that life will throw at you and, believe me, life will throw the kitchen sink at you at some point. Trolls are just part of social media, I actually find some of them quite funny. I sit and laugh at them with Miss Blogger while drinking a nice coffee. Blowing them emoji kisses seems to really annoy them.

Who's top of your racing selfie hit list?
I'd love to corner Aiden O'Brien and Sheikh Mohammed – please sir if you read this, thanking you kindly!

Who would be your four ideal dinner party guests?
Arnold of course, Paul Kealy (get da beers in), Bruce Lee – so much wisdom beyond his time – and Sylvester Stallone, just because he and Arnold would be great banter.

Who's your biggest fancy for next week?
Endless Acres for the Chester Cup. He must go close if he gets in.

Yes, I know – my hairstyle is tragic. #PrayForBlogger
E.W. Terms
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