The Berkshire racing stable, Sainte Bastien, has been in the Marchant family for generations, a bastion of old-fashioned values and integrity, but the next in line now jeopardises the family name as misfortune dogs the stable. Jockey Mark Ashton is forced into early retirement by injury and suffers a spectacular mental breakdown.
Replacement, Kym Hughes, had dreamed of a top position during twenty years of mediocrity. He had the talent, but never the breaks. At 34, the break finally comes, but at Ashton’s expense. Kym wonders if benefiting from a colleague’s misfortune has invoked a curse, as he now suffers nothing but ill luck and Nick Marchant isn’t noted for his patience.
Champion trainer Nick Marchant has his own troubles. The sudden retirement of Ashton left him high and dry at the start of the Flat racing season and replacement Hughes seems to be cursed. Nick can’t help but feel a little guilty at not showing Ashton the sympathy deserved, but sympathy isn’t his finer trait. The early death of his young wife taught him to be hard and his horses have become his only focus since. No coincidence that he became Champion Trainer the year after her death.
As if not enough, he was left to rear the wayward Dominic alone and now that his son has reached legal independence Nick dreads what the future may hold. Despite every effort to be the model parent he knows Dominic is amoral and hides a dark secret. Nick will inevitably be held responsible for anything Dominic does. Is it possible that his vengeful and jealous son is responsible for the stable’s run of misfortune?
More than parental problems dog teenage apprentice jockey Dominic, who is battling the scales, his late mother bequeathing him nothing more than her catwalk height. Weight is the least of his worries. Race riding is his only respite and the severe wasting is slowly and painfully killing him, but it was a choice he gladly made. His father isn’t the only one who daily cries to heaven that it should have been Dominic and not her… Unaware that their personal demons are forging stronger links than their racecourse ties, their lives become intertwined in a treacherous web of envy, obsession and danger.