Middleham-based Mark Johnston has broken Richard Hannon’s record for the number of winners, as Poet’s Society landed the Clipper Logistics Handicap at York.
It was the 4,194th victory of Johnston’scareer in Britain, taking him past the mark set by Richard Hannon snr and making him the most prolific trainer in British racing history.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori , Poet’s Society was in the vanguard from the gates and tenaciously stuck on to land the mile contest.
Johnston began training in 1987, having studied to be a vet beforehand. Hinari Video was his first winner at Carlisle.
Early stars included Marina Park and Branston Abby, both Pattern winners, but his 1993 crop of juveniles took the yard to another level.
Mister Baileys landed the 1994 2,000 Guineas, while Double Trigger went on to become an outstanding Cup horse, winning the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2005 and the Doncaster Cup on three occasions.
Bijou D’Inde was second in the 2,000 Guineas of 1996, beaten by fractions, but went on to win the St James’s Palace Stakes and became a globe-trotter.
In 1998, Lend A Hand also went close in the Guineas when second to King Of Kings.
Fruits Of Love was another popular and successful horse, winning the Dubai Turf and twice landing the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Attraction proved an outstanding filly in 2003 and 2004, winning the 1,000 Guineas, Irish 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes, while in 2004 Shamardal won the Dewhurst Stakes.
Johnston’s horses are renowned for their toughness and never-say-die attitude.
Glorious Goodwood would not seem right without a clutch of Johnston winners on a Southern raid.
So many handicappers have proved redoubtable, consistent and have kept Johnston’s prolific run of victories going. Horse like Fire Fighting, Watersmeet, Lake Volta and Rainbow Rebel are easily recalled.
But the team at Middleham should also be acknowledged.
Johnston, wife Deirdre, son Charlie and the whole team have a huge squad of horses to train and travel.
It only works well with the finest of precision organisation. Long may it continue.
Johnston said: “It’s a relief to get it out of the way and on to the next one. I’ve been wishing we could switch it all off and pretend it never happened.
“People keep saying, what does it mean? I don’t think anyone has tried to belittle it, but sometimes I think, how important is it? At the same time I do have to pinch myself and ask how I could get to 4,194 from where we started. It’s unimaginable.
“I nearly wasn’t here at York. Deirdre and Charlie aren’t here. An owner was coming to see some yearlings we bought in France and phoned to say he would arrive at 2pm. We had to decide who would stay behind and it was nearly me. We only had two runners today, both in the same race, at 20-1 and 33-1. We couldn’t expect it to have happened in this race.
“It was getting very frustrating. It wasn’t as if we had loads of odds-on shots beaten, and we had plenty of horses running well, but, sod’s law, it took quite a well to get from four to one and again from one to now.
“It’s great it has happened with a horse like this and it hadn’t even occurred to me he was carrying my own colours. If we could have written the result we would have had Joe Fanning on the horse, and of course it would have been great if it had been one of our regular jockeys, but I did say before the race that at least if it was Frankie no one would forget it!”