Clifton and the Spies by Raymond Macherot

By Raymond Macherot

3rd publication within the Clifton sequence, translated from Dutch to English

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No. He must ride! By entering his colt in the running, he had made the second most consequential wager of his life. The first, made nine years ago, had nearly destroyed him. Cheated, deceived, and betrayed, he had lost his love, his livelihood, even his country. And now, on this momentous day, he would finally see if his patiently formulated plan, a plan that had preoccupied both his conscious and unconscious mind for eight long years, would come to fruition. Only through this racing trial and, he prayed, a triumph to follow, could he be made to feel whole again.

Devington was such a rider. He had acquired years of such equine wisdom under two of the best tutors: first his father and later Jeffries, the stable master at Heathstead Hall. In his relatively short career, Devington had ridden a hundred horses if he had ridden one, and he knew how to read them. Keeping his mare well in hand, he studied the pair with whom he shared the field. Slug, he mused, was aptly named. He was the lazy sort. The type of horse with talent, but with a stubborn lethargy, having the inherent speed within him, but requiring the incessant driving of his rider to bring it out.

She was by a Darley son, out of a Darley granddaughter, Amoret. With the noted stallion twice her grandsire, she had the blood of a runner, but did she have the heart to go with it? This was the remaining question to which he would soon have an answer. Now less than five minutes to start, the bugler sounded the final call. Robert mounted the frisky mare and proceeded at a brisk trot to the starting post, where Slug's rider waited patiently astride the gelding, and Viscount Uxeter spurred his horse, Hawke, into a dancing frenzy.

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