Johnston forges on towards new frontiers with second 200 tally

Trainer on track to break record for number of Flat winners for a season amid hype surrounding title races

Entertaining as it was to see Richard Hughes pursue Paul Hanagan to his own backyard, the most instructive numbers game at Hamilton yesterday had nothing to do with jockeys. For if the trainers' championship were settled in the same way as the one being contested by these two, then Mark Johnston's 199th and 200th winners of the campaign would have confirmed him as firmly on course for the eighth title of his career.

In fairness, Johnston had himself made prize-money his defining priority for the season, feeling that an aggregate of £2.5m would represent a job well done for his patrons in these austere times. He would, moreover, have to raise the bar into the numerical stratosphere to surpass his unprecedented achievement last year when he became the first Flat trainer to saddle 200 winners. The fact that he now looks set to do so, with relatively little fanfare, suggests a culpable failure on the Turf to comprehend and salute one of the greatest careers in its long history. New records for Johnston have perhaps become so routine that they are almost taken for granted.

No doubt his relish for heterodoxy has cost him the affection of some in the sport's establishment, while the systematic nature of his operation – an intelligent delegation of responsibility back at Middleham and a ruthless tactical emphasis on fitness on the track – may blind sentimentalists to his flair.

Funnily enough, the trainer who reached equivalent horizons over jumps could identify with all of that. And should Johnston some day eclipse even that all-comers' record of 243 winners, then Martin Pipe himself would perhaps recognise his worth, sooner than many others.

The issue is somewhat confused by the fact that the Flat trainers' championship, nowadays computed over 12 months, officially runs from the end of the turf season in early November rather than January 1. Johnston was always irritated by the previous system, which ran in parallel with the jockeys' title from March to November, and is simply grateful that due account is now taken of the reality that a racing stable functions 365 days a year.

There are sound reasons, incidentally, for persevering with the traditional span of the jockeys' title race. It is only humane to permit Hanagan and Hughes to reintroduce themselves to their wives and children during the all-weather campaign.

Anyhow, Johnston's tally for the calendar year now stands at 188, so he has over three months to beat his tally of 216 in 2010. He has until 6 November to get from 200 in the championship past 221, his final score last time. More pertinently, he must accumulate nearly £250,000 more in prize-money to meet his own target.

Whatever happens, the Scotsman merits a toast for yesterday's milestone, which could hardly have been carved in more fitting fashion. Tobernea, the colt who brought up the double- century, did so with a trademark Johnston performance. Ridden from the front by Joe Fanning, he came off the bridle three furlongs out, was headed by a rival apparently going better, but rallied to regain the lead and then held another late challenge by a head.

No less characteristic, it must be said, was the way Hughes produced a suggestive vignette of how he might fare on Hanagan's "home" circuit. It was only a claimer, admittedly, but a delighted slap down his mount's neck passing the post left no doubt that Hughes felt his journey north justified. He had restrained Fujin Dancer on the bridle until deep inside the final furlong, comically shadowing Hanagan as his rival toiled on the hot favourite, and then produced the winner to score by a neck.

Hanagan had the last laugh, winning the final race for Jeremy Noseda and so preserving a lead of 16 at the top of the table. The fact that Hughes had ridden a winner for a Yorkshire yard, and Hanagan for a Newmarket one, accurately reflects that a maiden championship for either would be warmly received throughout the game. Unmistakably, however, there would be particular satisfaction on the northern circuit, were Hanagan to become the first champion based there since Kevin Darley in 2000, and only the second since 1905. Yesterday's winner, incidentally, means that Hanagan is already level with Darley's total of 155.

When it comes to restoring pride to the North, however, one man stands alone for his epoch-making accomplishments over the past couple of decades. Johnston will admittedly find it harder to gild his career with more Group One success, now that he has pragmatically accepted a role developing Maktoum stock for Godolphin. And other trainers – such as Hanagan's boss, Richard Fahey – have followed impressively in his slipstream. But Johnston has long since transcended any sense that his deeds might be plotted by a compass. He does not head north, south, east or west, only onwards.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Edinburgh Knight (5.30 Kempton)

Supported here last month and was going well when challenging in the straight but not seeing it out. Dropped in trip now.



Next best:

Point Out (5.00 Kempton)

Long absence since handicap debut in July implies reasons for disappointing then. Form of his stable suggests he will show his true colours today.



One to watch:

Bold Marc (Mrs K Burke) was backed at Pontefract last week but was unlucky, being hampered at a crucial stage.



Where the money is going:

Theola is 16-1 from 20-1 with William Hill for the Totesport Cesarewitch.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses papparrazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Organisational Change/ Transition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Accountacy Tutor

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Randstad Education is looking...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis