SOMETIMES it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up. Just ask Team Burke. That’s what the occupants of Spigot Lodge, in Leyburn, call the duo of Karl and Elaine Burke – who have, in every sense, picked themselves up off the canvas and kept fighting.

Their promising business looked in ruins three years ago when Karl was banned by the British Horseracing Authority for 12 months following an exhaustive inquiry into race-fixing in the sport.

His crime had been to allegedly pass information to a former owner and the ban had huge consequences for him and his family.

Burke had 100 horses in training and employed 30 staff before being stripped of his licence. His star horse, Lord Shanakill, had just won the Prix Jean Prat in France, but he, and a succession of other promising thoroughbreds, were moved out of a yard that was shut down.

When the ban was up, it was wife Elaine that applied for, and received, a licence to train.

And so Team Burke started again from scratch – and quickly made a mark.

Last year, with only 35 horses, Elaine and Karl, now officially his wife’s assistant, trained 38 winners on the Flat.

Another 15 have so far flowed in the first couple of months of this campaign. After some enormous setbacks, there is huge optimism that the Burkes are on the up.

“It is Team Burke”, said Elaine of the operation at Spigot Lodge, which also sees the couple’s two daughters work in the business.

“It’s a family business. Kelly my eldest works in the office and rides out and organises a lot of the racing.

“My younger daughter is a very good rider and does the feeding of the horses.

“We have a few feeders who are always checking what the horses are eating. That’s very important. When my husband used to ride, and we did livery, the girls were in the prams and it is something we are all used to – working round the horses. It is your way of life. It always has been.”

Reflecting on the BHA ban, she continued: “We probably would have had one of our best seasons and, horse-wise, we probably had the best we ever had. We had to start again more or less from scratch.

“They wouldn’t give me a licence (when the ban began) and we had to keep what horses we had working with John Weymes over the road. I was put down as his assistant. We still had quite a few winners, for the horses we had and, as soon as Karl’s ban was lifted, they allowed me to have a licence.

“Karl needed a bit more time to get things together and it would give me a chance to have a licence.

“We had some lovely two-year-olds coming through that went elsewhere and did well. I suppose you have to move on.”

That ban meant some huge upheavals.

“Karl wasn’t even allowed to live at home,” Elaine explained. “That’s why there was the yard at Little Spigot so he could move back home.

“My father took the licence when it first happened and lived here (Spigot Lodge) and Karl had to move out for three months.

“At the time, it was my daughters’ 18th and 21st birthdays. It was a special time in their lives and I don’t think people realise how it affects the whole family – for breaking a rule and a lot of people didn’t know what the rule was.”

But while the horses initially went elsewhere, now they are flocking back. The Burkes have been able to increase their string from 35 to 65 in the space of a year and their raiding parties to France are proving profitable.

Not bad in a recession.

“The prize money there is amazing and, also, to be down to fifth you get a reasonable amount back,” Elaine added of the motivation for the cross-Channel visits.

“Here, if you are in an average race, you might pick up £1,500. For second you might get £400 and third £200. It’s wrong.

“We won a claimer out there with Lady Jourdain and she picked up £7,500. We took her back two weeks later, she won another claimer, and was claimed for £18,000. Altogether she won us £30,000 in about two weeks.

“She was only a moderate filly. But, over here, you would have to win a good race to get that money.

“I do like French racing, and it’s nice to see other tracks, but it is definitely the prize money. Over here, if you aren’t winning much money, there’s not a lot for an owner to reinvest.”

She added: “We had some very loyal owners who stuck with us and we have had a lot of owners recently who have come back. We have about 65 horses and we are delighted with that, especially in these times. It’s a really good number. I think people can see we do a good job with a horse. Our horses look well, are healthy and we do well with winners. Out of 35 horses last year, we probably had 40 winners. We are very optimistic for the future.”

KARL BURKE’S football associations lie with Liverpool but he would probably be best keeping that a secret from two of the yard’s newest clients.

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney and former team-mate John O’Shea, now Sunderland captain, are the newest owners in wife Elaine’s Spigot Lodge stable – the pair having bought a 75 per cent share in a two-year-old Dutch Art colt.

The horse was purchased as a yearling at Doncaster sales and Team Burke, who have trained horses for former Anfield stars John Arne Riise and Sami Hyypia, are hoping he can win a fair few races for his superstar owners.

It is the latest expansion in Rooney’s growing stable.

The England striker carried his colours for the first time last month when the Tom Dascombe-trained Pippy and Tomway ran at Chester.