1 9 7 7 (UK)
12 x 25 minute episodes
This children’s series from Thames Television featured Melanie Webb (Kim McDonald), a posh girl who hides her horse (called Orbit) in the main larder in the third east wing of the family country mansion to prevent her mum and dad selling the horse to an Arab oil billionaire.
Sounds odd? Well, Melanie was part of an odd family. Her sister Katie (Alison Glennie) hopes to become the first women astronaut, while third sister Diana (Katrina Rose), at 13, is already writing novels.
But there are others interested in Orbit too (like the mysterious stranger who watches the stallion day and night) and when it is kidnapped, Melanie enlists the help of her brother, Richie (Charles Bolton), to set off on a desperate venture to save it.
The horse used in the series was a 16-hands high liver-chestnut ex-racehorse called Mandao. It was once valued at £20,000 until a training injury ended its career and it was sold for 110 guineas (approximately £120).
A second series was made in 1979 but with a different set-up. Instead of a six-part adventure, this series of six episodes was split into three two-part tales, and with Melanie now working for racing trainer Bill Otterby (David Sterne) at his stables, the format was more akin to Follyfoot, although a pale imitation.
Melanie becomes a pawn in the feud between two rival jockeys. One of the jockeys, Frank Tyson, was played by former Monkees star Davy Jones. Tyson was a nasty piece of work who was determined to bring the stables to the ground through his association with a crooked bookmaker. His partner in crime, Guthrie (Kevin Lloyd) served as comic relief.
Melanie’s ally at the stables was John Massen (Tom Owen).