Mark Johnston picking up his prize at Royal Ascot

Mark Johnston Trainer

Mark Johnston took the scenic route towards becoming a record-breaking trainer. The Scotsman - born on Otober 10, 1959 - first qualified as a vet after attending Glasgow University before taking out his training licence in 1987.

He first started training in Lincolnshire before moving to his current base at Middleham in North Yorkshire a year later. Johnston first came to prominence in 1993, when he trained Mister Baileys to Group 2 Vintage Stakes and Royal Lodge Stakes success.

With the same horse, he became a Classic winner with his first Classic runner as Mister Baileys (16/1) and Jason Weaver held off the late challenge of Frankie Dettori on Grand Lodge to win the 2000 Guineas by a short head in 1994. That was also the first Classic winner for the North of England since 1977 and a then record winning time for the race.

The following year, Double Trigger won the first of three Ascot Gold Cups for Johnston and in 1996, the Scot won his first St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot with Bijou d’Inde. Johnston also trained Double Trigger’s full brother Double Eclipse and the two siblings fought out a memorable finish to the Goodwood Cup in 1995.

Johnston enjoyed arguably his best year as a trainer to date in 2004, with Attraction winning the English and Irish 1000 Guineas as well as the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

In the same year, Johnston won the Vintage Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes with Shamardal, a horse he described as ‘the best I have ever trained’.

The Johnston team have been a mark of consistency down the years, having racked up over a century of winners for the last 24 consecutive Flat seasons. His horses are always very forward and he tends to have a lot of early two-year-old winners, but can also train outstanding stayers, including his current crop that includes Dee Ex Bee and Chester Cup winner Making Miracles.

Johnston also made history in August 2018 when Poet’s Society under Frankie Dettori won at York Racecourse. It was his 4,194th winner - the most of any trainer in British racing history.

Mark Johnston Horses

Mark Johnston has been training winners for over 30 years, with multiple Grade 1 success all over the globe. We take a look at some of his finest training performances across his career to date:

2000 Guineas – Mister Baileys (1994)

1000 Guineas – Attraction (2004)

Ascot Gold Cup – Double Trigger (1995), Royal Rebel (2001, 2002)

Cheveley Park Stakes – Lumiere (2015)

Dewhurst Stakes – Sharmardal (2004)

Preis von Europa – Jukebox Jury (2009)

Irish 1000 Guineas – Attraction (2004)

Irish St Leger – Jukebox Jury (2011)

Dubai Sheema Classic – Fruits of Love (1999)

Mark Johnston Stables

Based at Kingsley Park in the Yorkshire village of Middleham, Mark Johnston boasts some of the best facilities in the UK and Ireland. They include three separate grass gallops as well as an all-weather Tapeta gallop, similar to the one used at Newcastle, Wolverhampton and Meydan.

They also boast an equine swimming pool, automatic exercisers and starting stalls to practise breaking quickly, something Johnston’s horses are renowned for. They have 270 acres of land and the yard is also the only one in the country to employ two full-time vets.

Johnston has several owners who supply him with top-quality horses and as a result, he doesn’t have a stable jockey he uses predominantly. Joe Fanning rides a lot of his winners, but other jockeys such as PJ McDonald and Franny Norton also take up plenty of rides, with the latter often riding in the grey colours of Clipper Logistics, a major backer of Mark Johnston.

Champion Jockey Silvestre De Sousa also occasionally rides for Johnston, and he has played a key role in his three Jockeys Championship victories.

Mark Johnston horses to follow

Lucky Deal (4yo): Owned by Kai Fai Leung, Lucky Deal took a while to improve as a three-year-old but has progressed into a valuable staying handicapper for the Johnston team. Having only won two of his first 10 starts, he has improved for a step up in trip and landed some decent prize money before winning a good handicap at Haydock last time out on ground quicker than ideal. Having already won three times on the all-weather, he could be set for a run at the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle at a track that will surely suit, with a strong pace and long home straight.

Dee Ex Bee (4yo): Having finished second in the 2018 Epsom Derby, Dee Ex Bee has gone from a promising middle-distance horse to a Group 1 contender over marathon trips, having won both of his starts this season in Group 3 company. The four-year-old colt would rate as Johnston’s best chance of a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot, having been lined up for a tilt at the Ascot Gold Cup against the likes of Southern France, Cross Counter and 2018 Stayers’ Million winner Stradivarius.

Sir Ron Priestley (3yo): This three-year-old has been patiently trained by Johnston and his owner Paul Dean now looks to be reaping the rewards. After two solid runs over a mile as a two-year-old, he was stepped up to the 12-furlong trip in April and duly bolted up. He has since repeated the trick at Haydock, being eased down at the finishing line. Off a lenient mark of 94, the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot could be the plan for this improving colt.

Raffle Prize (2yo): This fast-improving two-year-old filly looks set for a trip to Royal Ascot after demolishing a decent field at Chester in May. Raffle Prize was second on debut at Newmarket a beautifully-bred Roger Varian horse but made use of a favourable draw at Chester to draw clear from her rivals, winning by five lengths. She is likely to run in the six-furlong Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and definitely could be one to consider.

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