Graham Motion has spent nearly 10 years traveling around the world learning about racehorses.
Now, at 27, he's settling down in Maryland, working as assistant trainer to Bernie Bond, the state's legendary conditioner of quick 2-year-olds.
After graduating from Kent School near New Haven, Conn., Motion spent a year at Le Mesnil, the stud farm in Le Mans about an hour south of Paris owned by the renowned French sportswoman Mme. Couturie.
Then for five years, he was traveling head lad for Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer Jonathan Sheppard, journeying from Camden, S.C., to Cheltenham, England, from Auteuil, France, to Leopardstown, Ireland, and running champion 'chaser Flatterer and his stablemate, Double Bill, in international jumping events.
He spent a year at Chantilly, learning about French training methods and running the yard for Jonathan Pease.
But now Motion is quite content to be overseeing operations at the Bond barn on the corner of Northern Parkway and Pimlico Road, even if he is about the only person on the Pimlico Race Course backstretch who speaks fluent French.
"I've been with Bernie exactly one year," Motion said. "I miss the jumpers, but realized if I wanted to make a living, it had to be in the flat game. I thought Maryland would be a nice place to live. My parents live in Virginia. I had heard a lot about Carlos Garcia and wrote to him, asking him for a job. He didn't need anyone, but he advised me to see Bernie Bond. That's what I did, and he hired me a year ago in March."
Motion was born in Newmarket, England, where his parents, bloodstock agent Michael Motion and his wife, Jo, operated a dairy farm and small stud farm. Then his father became an American representative for Tattersalls, an international bloodstock agency.
He moved his family to the United States, "and all of us were educated in American schools," Motion said.
A younger brother, Andrew, is yearling manager at Lazy Lane Farm, the Upperville, Va., farm of Joe L. Allbritton, the media mogul who raced last year's Preakness winner, Hansel.
One sister, Pippa, lives in Paris and is social secretary to Lucy Boutin, the wife of Francois Boutin, a leading French trainer and conditioner of Arazi, this year's heavy favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
"But I don't think Pippa has ever even seen Arazi," Motion said.
Another sister, Clair, is a schoolteacher in Virginia, not far from Middleburg, where his parents live.
Motion said that Sheppard and Bond are opposites in training techniques. "But that's what makes it so fascinating," he said. "Jonathan is mortified if his horses show early speed. He wants them to relax and then finish on the bridle [full of run]. He trains distance and turf horses. Mr. Bond wants his horses on the lead and puts the speed into them."
The first crop of Bond 2-year-olds that Motion worked with last year turned out to be exceptional. Five of them -- More Paces, Noholmes Barred, Gala Golddigger, Gala Prospector and Duds -- either won or placed in stakes.
"We have nine 2-year-olds this year, and right now, nothing seems too spectacular," Motion said. "We have two colts, a brother to Gala Golddigger, and a Track Barron colt out of the mare Smartie Cat that looks the best."
Motion said he and Bond are still mystified why their Maryland-bred champion, Gala Spinaway, finished last in last Sunday's John B. Campbell Handicap.
"It's possible the 2-year-olds brought some kind of virus with them when they shipped in," Motion said. "Gala Spinaway hasn't been his old self all week. In fact, we haven't sent him to the track at all. But I'm sure he'll eventually bounce back."
Hunt Cup: A field of nearly a dozen horses could run Saturday in the 4-mile Maryland Hunt Cup.
Possible starters are Von Csadek, Revelstoke, Uncle Merlin, Pleasant Sea, Cabral, Gesticulate, Tingles Image, Capital K., Ballybranogue, No Triskadekafobia, Body Music and Snow Maker.
Parking stickers for this event are not sold at the course on Tufton Avenue near Glyndon on the day of the race. But they can be purchased until 3 p.m. Friday afternoon at the cashier's office at Valley Motors, 9800 York Road, Cockeysville, or by calling (410) 666-7777.