A career in racing made sense for the British-born H. Graham Motion, whose father, Michael, was an international bloodstock agent, and whose mother, Jo, was an amateur rider. Jo also took care of 1951 Gand National winner Nickel Coin and later became an assistant trainer.
The Motion family moved to the U.S. in 1980 when Graham was 16, and he completed his high school studies in 1983 at the Kent School in Connecticut. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard from 1985 to 1990 and among the horses he handled was Flatterer, a four-time winner of the Eclipse Award as outstanding steeplechase horse. Motion spent a year working in Chantilly, France, where he met his wife, Anita.
He returned to the U.S. in 1991 to be an assistant to Maryland trainer Bernie Bond. When Bond died in 1993, two of his owners left their horses with Motion, who took out his training license and opened his business, Herringswell Stables. He won 21 races that first year, including three stakes with the stable star, Gala Spinaway. Motion built a reputation as an accomplished trainer, who excelled with turf runners such as Film Maker and Better Talk Now.
In 2011 he realized the dream of every trainer with a victory in the Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom. Motion then trained Animal Kingdom to a runner-up finish behind eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Mile and a victory in the world's richest horse race, the 2013 Dubai World Cup.