Mark Johnston makes history with record-breaking winner at York

North Yorkshire-based Scot overtakes mark set by Richard Hannon senior

  • Thursday 23 August
  • News
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Trainer Mark Johnston claimed a record-breaking 4,194th career victory in Britain after Poet’s Society won at York.

The Middleham handler has been prolific for many years and his latest success has seen him overtake Richard Hannon senior as Britain’s winning-most trainer.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Poet’s Society was sent off at 20-1 for the Clipper Logistics Handicap and got home by a neck from 5-1 joint-favourite Kynren.

Johnston had been on the brink of the record for a while, and was delighted to finally get over the line.

He said: “It’s been very frustrating, but it’s not as if we’ve had loads of odds-on shots beat.

“Relief is the main thing I’m feeling – it’s out the way now and on to the next one (winner).

“If you could have had the perfect result it would have been Joe Fanning on board, but, as we were saying earlier, because it was Frankie no one will forget it.”

Born in Glasgow, Johnston, 58, is a qualified vet and having married childhood sweetheart Deirdre in 1985, he took out his trainer’s licence in March 1987, saddling his first winner in July that year, when Hinari Video won at Carlisle.

His first Group-race winner came through Marina Park in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in 1992 and many big-race successes have followed, including three wins in the Ascot Gold Cup courtesy of Double Trigger and dual victor Royal Rebel.

Classic glory has been achieved with Mister Baileys in the 2000 Guineas and the brilliant Attraction in the 1000 Guineas, while he currently numbers 43 Royal Ascot triumphs on his CV.

He added: “I started small. It was just one winner at a time and with horses like this. That was his sixth win of the year. That’s what it’s about – to run them.

“This horse epitomises what we’re all about – I think he’s won about nine races now.

“This is a special place to do it, as well, but it’s business as usual now.

“We’ve got friends over – not for this (the record), but because it’s York – and it’s certainly not going to be a quiet night.

“From where we started, I’ve got to pinch myself.”

Reflecting further on his achievement, Johnston said: “I don’t think anyone has belittled the record and sometimes I have to take a breath and think how important it is. Now we can get back to business.

“To do it here is great, a big crowd and I really appreciated the applause.

“I nearly wasn’t here, though. An owner came to see some yearlings we’d bought in France and I had to decide whether to stay and meet him or come and see two runners who were 20-1 and 33-1.

“When I set out (as a trainer) it was all about winning Group Ones and Classics, I had no pretensions to train so many winners, I didn’t even know who held the record.

“It only really came to my attention when Richard Hannon took it off Martin Pipe and then I thought ‘I can get that’.

“It won’t be a quiet night, that’s for sure.”

Dettori, who performed one his trademark flying dismounts in the winners’ enclouse, said: “It’s remarkable what he has achieved in these last few years. I think it is consistency that has seen him break the record.

“He has 200 winners every year. His horses are very versatile and very tough.

“Mark is usually very reserved, but he looked cheerful and quite emotional (afterwards), it was nice to see.

“He’s a lovely man to ride for and I wish him all the success.”

Mark Johnston makes history with record-breaking winner at York
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