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Graphic courtesy of Racing Post

A team of six racehorse trainers plus Sheikh Fahad and David Redvers are now in serious work ahead of their attempt on the 26-mile endurance test, although a variety of minor injuries and social distractions are hampering efforts to bring eight finely-tuned athletes to the starting line.

Star of the Week Award goes to Kingclere's Andrew Balding, who was nearly lured from the path of righteousness during a winter holiday, but was subsequently trained in blinkers and a pricker and duly lined up in Sunday's Mizuno Reading Half Marathon where he completed the course in 2hrs 5mins 34s.

This built on a recent 11.6 miles workout which he knocked off in 1hr 57mins.

These two good runs were the least he could do to prove his fitness given that he undertook a long-planned holiday to Mauritius in late January, and initially claimed the flight had caused deep-veined thrombosis which would affect his ability to maintain the miles. Closed-circuit cameras at the resort revealed Balding had in fact met up with a fellow trainer and Marathon shirker in the shape of Ralph Beckett. Swimming and drinking became the only strenuous pastime.

Guilt-ridden on his return, Balding was soon into his running shoes and claims an average workout is 15.7 miles per week.

Asked for an update on his preparation, Lambourn trainer Charlie Hills said his shoeing bill had reached £350 and asked if he could charge training fees.

He added: "I am taking my training well, and completed a 15k run in 1hr 44 mins on Sunday. I am a little sore on the inside of the ankles. Had a blow-out this morning, running three miles in 23 mins 11.26s."

Newmarket- based David Simcock is proving a particularly committed trainer. He reported: "My diet and racing weight are on target, and it feels like I am getting fitter!!

"The initial training phase of very sore legs is well past, and stamina and speed are now being worked on. During recent visits to Dubai's Meydan Hotel the treadmill has been put to excellent use. Daily training runs vary in distance and speed but three miles is now comparatively easy and times are improving."

Simcock celebrated his 42nd birthday on Sunday, when presents from his family included "Snug-fitting lycra, fluorescent socks and leg bands".

Fellow Newmarket trainer Robert Cowell said preparation had been going well although racing in Dubai and a social gathering in Spain had set him back slightly. He added: "I have a small problem with my right knee, left ankle and all ten toes, which have blisters on them. However, I tend to blossom with a bit of sun on my back and will be stacking up the miles once again. All in all, February's training was not a complete disaster!"

Surrey-based Olly Stevens has recovered well from patella tendonitis - that's a sore knee - thanks to the fantastic work of his physiotherapist who he visits twice a week. Olly takes the view that training for the Virgin London Marathon should be fun, so in addition to some running he has also been enjoying 'Kite surfing, mountain biking and skiing'.

To make a contribution to the team's efforts, go to

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