I probably came to Samantha Alexander a bit late to appreciate her: certainly as
far as her Riders series went. I just can’t see the 14 year old heroine and her relationship
with the 19 year old event rider, particularly now, when I am the mother of a nearly
14 year old: the idea of her going out with someone who was 19 would make me spit
tacks. Maybe if I’d read the series when I was fourteen it would have been blissful
wish fulfilment, but I didn’t. The Riding School series I find better - certainly
She wrote 4 series, but nothing as far as I can find, after 2002, unless she is writing
under a different name. Samantha Alexander worked as an “agony aunt” with Horse
and Pony magazine - she had previously done a stint as a teenage agony aunt for BBC
Radio Leeds, so she certainly had plenty of experience of teenage drama and angst.
None of her books, as far as I know, were ever published in hardback, so all books
listed in the bibliography are paperback. All the books are reasonably easy to find.
The Hollywell Stables Series
Hollywell Stables is a sanctuary for horses and ponies. It’s run by Mel (1 2), and
her brother Ross (14), and sister Katie (9), and their lives are a perpetual balancing
act between finding money to run the sanctuary, and rescuing what horses and ponies
The covers for this series were shot, I think, at Suzanne’s Riding School. This
was the longest running riding school under the same ownership until it closed in
2004. It was started by Suzanne Marczak when she was a teenager in 1939 with 2 horses
and 2 ponies, and was then run by her son Julian.
The Riders Series This follows the adventures of 14 year old Alex Johnson, her 19
year old boyfriend Ash “Flash” Burgess, eventing star, and Alex’s dun pony Barney.
The girl who stars as Alex on the cover is Sally Johnson, who won a competition in
Horse and Pony magazine to find a cover girl. The covers were shot at Sandridgebury
Stables, by Bob Langrish.
The Riding School Series
This series follows the fortunes of a set of girls at the Brook House Riding School,
and tells each of their individual stories.
The Winners Series
Set in the racing world., this series is about Justina Brookes, and her ambition
to win the Grand National.
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood and Dawn Harrison, without whom these pages would
be sad and bald.
Finding the books:
The books are mostly very easy to find, and generally cheap.
Common: Against the Clock, Crossing the Line, Emma, Fame, Flying Start, Trapped,
Deceit, The Chase, In The Frame, Jodie, Kate, Peak Performance, Perfect Timing, Race
to Glory, Rachel, Racing Start, Revenge, Rising Star, Running Wild, Secrets, Sophie,
Steph, Team Spirit, The Chase, The Mission, Trapped, Will to Win, Winning Streak,
The Gamble, Winners
The stables is desperately short of money, so Mel, Ross and Katie decide to run a
horse show. A mysterious note leads them to a starving pony shut in a scrapyard, and
then there’s Colorado, whose wealthy owner has decided the only solution to his behaviour
is to have him put down. Hollywwell Stables 1
The Gamble Macmillan, London, pb, 1994 Macmillan, London, pb, 1994
Can the team persuade a world famous star to give a charity concert for the stables?
Rocky finds that the racing stables keeping his thoroughbred are cheating him, and
he leads the team on a mission to uncover the truth. Hollywell Stables 2
Hollywell Stables Flying Start The Gamble Revenge/The Chase Fame The Mission Trapped Runnning
Revenge Macmillan, London, pb, 1995 Reprinted as The Chase, Macmillan, London, pb
Rocky’s new record has been a sucess, and it brings overnight fame to the sanctuary.
A girl hears them on the radio, and tells them about a miniature horse locked in
a caravan, but she rings off before they can find out where it is. Hollywell Stables
The Mission Macmillan, London, pb, 1995
Macmillan, London, pb, 1999 (cover done at Suzanne’s Riding School)
Mel, Ross and Katie go to a horse sale, and see a mule and a blind pony being loaded
into a cramped lorry with no food or water. They hide in the lorry to see what will
happen to the ponies, but unfortunately, the lorry starts with them still in it,
and worse still, it’s headed to France.
Hollywell Stables 5
Trapped Macmillan, London, pb, 1995
Macmillan, London, pb, 1999 (cover done at Suzanne’s Riding School)
The Hollywell team are collecting signatures for a petition against animal cruelty,
and they hear a donkey braying. When they investigate, they find him in a deserted
house, but he is not alone. There is a man with a gun, and they are trapped with
him. Worse still, nobody knows where they are. Hollywell Stables 6
There’s a Black Beast roaming the local moors - or so the local paper says. Then
a Welsh mare disappears and the Black Beast is blamed. Hollywell Stables 7
Secrets Macmillan, London, pb, 1995
Macmillan, London, pb, 1999
The Hollywell team are at their county show, selling merchandise. A horse has a
terrible accident at the show, and then they find Teddy, crippled and locked in a
garden shed. It looks as if there’s only one person to blame, and the team have to
find proof before the situation gets out of hand. (Hollywell Stables 8)
Alex Johnson owns the 14.2 dun Barney, and she wants to event. Her ambition isn’t
helped when she antagonises 19 year old Ash Burgess, the star eventer who runs the
stables, nor is it when she lets Barney career into wheelchair-bound Eric’s garden.
There is a mystery there - why does the very mention of Eric make Ash furious? Eric
says Alex can’t ride, but he will teach her. She takes him up on his offer. All this
is complicated by the fact that, as her friend Zoe says, “the trouble with this yard
is that there aren’t enough men, and far too many women.” Riders 1
Alex Johnson and the person on the yard she loathes most, Camilla Davies, are on
the same team for the Pony Club One Day Event. Added to this, the slimy Mark Preston
is also now on the yard with his horse, as Ash is now being sponsored by Mark’s father.
Mark brings far more than his fair share of problems to the yard. Riders 2
Joel O’Ryan, another famous eventer, has come to run a course at the local pony club.
Alex is star-struck and risks losing Ash, and Eric, but Joel has another agenda rooted
in the events of the past. Riders 3
Ash is giving up eventing and selling his best horse: he is in severe financial
trouble, and it looks like the only way out. A bitter rival , Jack Landers, has just
arrived from America, and is soaking up any opportunities Ash might have had. The
one chance Ash has is if he wins Burnley. Alex is determiined he will go, and with
her as his groom, though the problems with Jack Landers just keep coming. Riders
There’s a new groom at the stables, but she appears in a mysterious way, and there’s
mystery about her right from the start. Then Alex realises the mystery girl is Jade
Lamond, missing supermodel, and Alex gets sucked into the world of modelling herself.
Against the Clock Macmillan, London, pb, 1997. Cover photo Bob Langrish. Character
Top dressage judge Sid Shackleton asks to see Barney, which could mean selection
for the Junior Team for Alex. But everything goes wrong when a girl claims that Barney
(who has a mysterious past) is her pony Dino, and she wants him back. Riders 6
Perfect Timing Macmillan, London, pb, 1997 Cover photo Bob Langrish.
The last of the Riders series, in which Blake Kildaire, famous showjumper, visits
the Sutton Valley Pony Club to give a lecture and demonstration. Blake is also connected
with Hollywell Stables, Samantha’s first series. There’s good news for Alex - she’s
been asked to compete in the Junior National Trials. Then Blake gets a threatening
anonymous letter, but it soon becomes obvious the author must be someone on the course
he’s running.... Riders 8
Jodie Macmillan, London, pb, 1999
In compilation Riding School, Macmillan, London, 2001
Jodie is a talented rider who must find the courage to get back in the saddle following
a horrific traffic accident. Riding School 1
Emma Macmillan, London, pb, 1999 In compilation Riding School, Macmillan, London, 2001
Emma has to prove her innocence when it appears her carelessness has placed one of
the riding school ponies in danger. Riding School 2
Steph is shocked when she is dropped from the top riding group. She recklessly turns
her back on everything she has been taught, and risks losing Monty, her pony, for
ever. Riding School 3
Kate Macmillan, London, pb, 1999
It looks as if there’s a poltergeist at the stables, as odd things keep happening.
Taps suddenly turn themselves on, bales of hay are moved and tack disappears. None
of this makes for a good atmosphere at the stables, and horses and riders are both
edgy. Kate decides to solve the mystery. Riding School 4
Sophie Macmillan, London, pb, 1999
In the Saddle magazine has invited the girls to star in a photo story to appear
in the magazine. It will feature an Akhal-Teke stallion at the nearby Highflyers
Stud. Riding School 5
Rachel Macmillan, London, pb, 1999
Brook House is nominated for Riding School of the Year. Riding School 6
Racing Start Macmillan, London, pb, 2001
Justina Brookes’ ambition is to win the Grand National, but no one in the racing
world thinks a girl can do it. The Justina discovers Murphy’s Law, a horse she begins
can win the National, and when top jockey Rory Calligan begins to believe in them,
it looks as if Justina might just achieve her ambition. Winners 1
Crossing the Line Macmillan, London, pb, 2001
Dolphin Barn, the stables where Justina Brookes works, don’t seem to have any faith
in her or Murphy’s Law. So, she decides to race at Ascot for the rival trainger, Adam
Valentine. Will her decision mean the start of a more glamorous career flat racing,
or the end of her dreams? Winners 2
Breaking the Rules Macmillan, London, pb, 2002
Justina’s talent is now being recognised, and she’s starting to get public recognition,
but this brings its own problems. Her safety, and Murphy’s Law’s are being threatened
by someone who is determined to stop her succeeding. Justina has to decide whether
to risk herself or her horse, or give up her dream. Winners 3
Race to Glory Macmillan, London, pb, 2002
At last, Justina and Murphy’s Law are within sight of the National, but can they
do it? WInner 4
Hollywell Stables Omnibus 1
Macmillan, London, pb, 1997
Hollywell Stables Omnibus 2
Macmillan, London, pb, 1997
Contains: The Mission, Trapped, Running Wild and Secrets.
Riding School: Three Girls, Three Ponies, Three Exciting Adventures Macmillan, London,