Incorporating Darmanin Stables and Darmanin Equine Consultants
Victor Darmanin was the founder of Darmanin Stables, although he probably never realised what he was starting!
Born in 1912, he grew up as an orphan, as his father Salvatore, a goldsmith, died at the age of 36 and his mother Josephine six months later.
He and his brother were sent to a boys orphanage in Valletta, whilst his sisters went to Fra Diego orphanage in Hamrun.
Victor hated the orphanage and soon ran away and met up which someone called "Il Spanjol" who trained him to be a jockey. Il Spanjol was involved with the British Army, and during and after the 2nd World War, Victor worked as a store keeper with the Army himself.
Distributing the stores with carts and his heavy horses, Victor used to bring any spare food home with him - and feed the whole street!
With his experience as a jockey, and his links with the Army, Victor soon became involved with the Flat racing scene as a trainer and jockey - either he would race the horses himself, or, if light enough, the owner would ride.
At this time, the Race Track in Marsa (Maltese for Marsh) was grass and quite soft, so there were also hurdles races organised as well as on the flat.
Victor originally had stables in Nazarenu Street, Hamrun, but after the war moved his operation to Marsa, as it was becoming difficult to stay there. At this time, he also gave up his fleet of "Karozzin" - horse drawn cabs that can still be seen all over Malta.
After moving to Marsa with his family - who were all involved in the business in some way - he also got involved in buying and training horses for polo.
Although he never played (polo in Malta was limited to the services and Maltese gentry at that time), Victor was considered an excellent trainer of horses and had an excellent eye for the ball.
In the 1950's he took over the duties of training some of Lord Mountbatten's horses and with his knowledge and son Salvo's skills, they trained and sold Lord Mountbatten "Desert Rat" a fleabitten grey - the start of a great friendship.
In 1954, he met Commander Laurence Kiggell, whose wife Paddy was a fully qualified IOH (Instructor of Horse). She started to help exercising the racehorses and one day suggested that he should open a riding school - the rest as they say is history!
Her son Patrick joined the RAF, and coincidentally was Lucy's region commander whilst she worked with the Air Cadets shortly before coming to Malta!
Victor died in August 1968, in his chair in Marsa, little did we know that history would repeat itself, 35 years later.