Four-timer puts Johnston on brink of record

Click to follow
The Independent Online

First David Elsworth said he was achieving 1,000 winners based on his own statistics. Then came Mark Johnston informing us of the same milestone produced from his personal database. Before you know where we are, Jamie Osborne will tell us he is closing in on his own training millennium.

First David Elsworth said he was achieving 1,000 winners based on his own statistics. Then came Mark Johnston informing us of the same milestone produced from his personal database. Before you know where we are, Jamie Osborne will tell us he is closing in on his own training millennium.

Elsworth is going well at the moment but no man in the country can surpass the numerical achievements of Johnston who first trained close to a firing range and is currently sending out scattergun winners all over the country.

The clan tartan was stamped on three race tracks across a sprawling Bank Holiday Monday for racing yesterday as Johnston had winners at Newcastle, Epsom and Warwick, and the trainer is closing in fast on 1,000 career successes, which is not bad considering he is just 40 and has had a licence since only February 1987.

If the numbers are true, and it would be hard to disagree with him at the point of a skean-dhu, Johnston is now just two winners short of the thousand, and on the verge of claiming the fastest such figure in training history. Even Martin Pipe did not get his machine fully cranked up, with a century of winners in one campaign, until his 12th season.

Johnston has recorded 106 wins this term and 80 of them in the last three months, 32 coming in June alone. Since his debut season in 1987, when he registered a lone winner, Johnston has established himself as perhaps the most consistent of Flat race trainers and has posted a century every year since 1994.

Kind Regards kept the Middleham tank rolling yesterday as she completed a hat-trick in a downpour at Newcastle. It was owner Maktoum Al Maktoum's racing manager Joe Mercer who had persuaded Johnston to try the filly over a longer trip. "All credit to Joe and she's looked a different horse since going up in distance," said the trainer. "It's nice to get a Listed win into her and now the objective will be to try to win a Group race."

Johnston made it a double at Gosforth Park when two-year-old newcomer Lots Of Love, in the same silks carried by Fruits Of Love, gave Mick Doyle, his owner, yet another winner.

At Epsom, Riberac was far too competent for her eleven rivals as jockey Joe Fanning slipped his field going round Tattenham Corner. By the finish, Riberac had four lengths in hand to give Fanning his 48th success of the season.

At Warwick, there was also a Johnston factor with an animal which may as well have have been an advert for the stable. Xellance made it eight wins for the season, defying a 35lb rise in the weights.

It is Johnston's wish to win more good races as well as more races, and in this respect he will give himself a chance at Baden-Baden in Germany on Sunday. The Johnston-trained Fruits of Love, winner of the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in both of the last two seasons but hitherto unsuccessful at the highest level, is scheduled to bid for a Group One triumph in the Grosser Preis Von Baden.

Among his challengers are expected to be Daliapour (Sir Michael Stoute), Commander Collins (John Gosden) and the Godolpin pairing of Mutafaweq and Fantastic Light. There may also be a return to the racecourse for Holding Court, who captured the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) at Chantilly by six lengths. He was subsequently a disappointment in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

"He seems in good form and the ground is on the soft side over there at the moment," Michael Jarvis, the colt's trainer, said. "This race has been the target for him and he's done plenty of work, he seems to have freshened up."

Whatever transpires in Germany at the weekend, it appears that Holding Court will not return for the continent's most prestigious race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, at Longchamp the following month. "I don't think he will go for the Arc this year," Jarvis said. "Hopefully if he stays in training he could go for the race next year."

* With almost half an inch of rain falling in half an hour at Newcastle yesterday the ground had changed to good to soft before the Blaydon Race, handing the advantage to horses drawn low. And it was Perfect Plum, from the No 4 stall, who made the most of her advantageous position. Moving to the front with two furlongs to travel in the £40,000 nursery - the richest two-year-old handicap in Europe - Sir Mark Prescott's charge saw off Emms, who raced on the near side, by two lengths. Winning jockey George Duffield admitted he had checked both sides of the track before the race. "I know that when it gets wet here it's better to be on the far side," he said. "But I didn't want to be against the rail as it seemed to be softer there. I managed to find a perfect position just a few horses off the rail and the filly has done the rest."

Comments