But a trainer's job is filled with highs and lows and Murphy had both at the April 7 Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point races in Monkton.

Private Attack, ridden by Beecher, was leading the pack of seven horses in the first race when he failed to jump over a wooden fence and fell. Neither horse nor rider was injured and Murphy expects Beecher to ride Private Attack in the upcoming Grand National and Hunt Cup races.

Murphy ended the day Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point a winner when Airolo, the second horse she trains for Michael Wharton, won the last race of the day.

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"Alicia lets a horse be a horse," Wharton says. "She tries to preserve the spirit and drive they naturally have. She's also a wizard at figuring out what's wrong when a horse is off."

In her blood

Alicia Stump grew up in a riding family. Her parents, Louise and Humpy, both rode and fox-hunted and the family had horses on their farm off Dover Road in Reisterstown.

Alicia rode with the Green Spring Hounds Pony Club and fox-hunted with the Green Spring Valley Hounds.

After graduating from Garrison Forest School, she got a degree in American literature from Middlebury College in Vermont. But she soon realized she didn't want her mind in a book. She wanted her body on a horse. She got a job galloping horses at Pimlico.

Her family's fascination with horses was tested in 1977 when her younger brother, Jimmy Stump, was killed at a Delaware Park steeplechase race.

"There was talk about giving up horses after Jimmy died, but our family's connection to horses was pretty strong," she said.

Murphy said she was seriously injured only once about 15 years ago when she fell off a horse that was spooked by a deer. The horse kicked her hard enough to sever a kidney. Doctors were able to reattach it and she was soon back in the saddle.

She says she never intended to be a trainer. She was living in Parkton with her husband and three children when she heard a friend was looking for a trainer.

"I figured I could train one horse," she said. "So I found a place to board him and work with him. He was my only project."

That horse, named Joe's O.K., went on to be named Maryland Timber Horse of the Year in 1990.

"I actually get numb at races and feel a little detached," she says. "Many times I don't find out if my training's been right until the horse actually races. I'm not right all the time, but it's nice when I am."