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Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 10:44 UK

Can new horse power prevail?

GEoff Webster
By Geoff Webster
BBC Scotland Sport correspondent

Appalachian Trail in action at Sandown
Appalachian Trail will race from the new-look Belstane Stables

Two heads are better than one, so they say. If that's the case, it's going to be very interesting watching the progress of Belstane Racing Stables near Carluke in the months ahead.

For it's there that two of Scotland's top racehorse trainers are combining their "horse power" in a bid to plunder some of the country's leading prizes.

Ian Semple has trained there for the last 10 years but a few months ago decided he wanted to take more of a background role or even step down altogether.

The owner of the stables, Gordon McDowell, began a widespread search for a successor that eventually led to him appointing Linda Perratt as trainer with Semple staying on as her assistant.

Perratt has left her Cree Lodge Stables opposite Ayr racecourse to take over the reins, bringing her horses with her and the new set-up can boast Scotland's largest racing stables with 50 boxes now filled.

On a visit to see the Perratt-Semple double act in action, it was apparent there are going to be a lot of laughs along the way.

Interview: Linda Perratt and Ian Semple

Semple insists he has no problem going from trainer to assistant, joking that he's never been the boss in his own house anyway, so now he'll be hounded by two women!

Before returning to Scotland, Semple had worked for some of the most successful trainers in the country, including John Dunlop and John Gosden.

It was while working with Gosden that he was involved in looking after the 1997 Derby winner, Benny the Dip.

Now a grandfather, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and getting his golf handicap down.

Perratt has been one of Scotland's most high profile racing personalities in recent years, having ridden as an amateur before turning to training.

Her bright and bubbly nature have made her one of the most recognisable faces on the racecourse. She intends to use top jockeys Tom Eaves and Philip Makin whenever possible.


Her first-season target at Belstane is 40 winners - she's already into double figures thanks to a good early start on the all-weather surface at Wolverhampton.

But when the big meetings come around, she's looking to Big Timer and Appalachian Trail to bring some large amounts of prize money back to Scotland from the likes of Ascot and York.

Spring is the season of hope in horse racing when the dreams that have sustained owners and trainers through the winter months can be realised - or cruelly scuppered.

With what Perratt describes as "state-of-the-art facilities and fantastic all-weather gallops", it seems odds on that plenty winners are on the cards for Scottish racing's dream team.

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