Mark Johnston Stable Tour

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Julian Muscat gets the lowdown from Britain’s winningmost trainer

A spate of records tumbled last year as Mark Johnston posted his best-ever season. He set new benchmarks by winners (226) and prize-money (£4.329 million), while on August 23 he surpassed Richard Hannon snr’s career haul of 4,193 winners to become the most prolific trainer in British racing history.

He also saddled Dee Ex Bee to finish runner-up in the Derby. That colt returns in 2019, for which Johnston has assembled as strong a team of older horses as he can recall. Others scheduled to return this year are Elarqam and Mildenberger, whose season was curtailed by injury after he ran second in the Dante.

The core of Johnston’s older-horse strength lies in his collection of promising stayers. Not since the golden days of Double Trigger and Double Eclipse has the trainer been so spoiled for choice. “It’s very exciting to have so many of them rated between 100 and 110, and I’m expecting some of the four-year-olds to improve again,” he says.

There are several proven three-year-olds at Kingsley Park, although the stable also houses a number of unexposed types. “There must be good ones among them,” Johnston says. “We’ve got several of the same calibre as Dee Ex Bee was this time last year, so hopefully the stars will materialise.”

There is no exact science to profiting from Johnston’s winner churn. As effective an approach as any is to concentrate on his three-year-olds in big handicaps over one and a quarter miles and beyond. And there are bound to be bountiful winners from a juvenile string in excess of 130.

Stable profile

Yard Kingsley Park
Where 
Middleham, North Yorkshire
Started training 
1987
Horses in yard 
265
Members of staff 
140
Finest hour 
Winning the 2004 1,000 Guineas with Attraction, three of whose progeny are in training at Kingsley Park
Assistant trainers
 Deirdre Johnston, Charlie Johnston, Jock Bennett
Yard managers Andrew Bottomley, Emma Dwyer, Mairead Heap, Hayley Kelly, Andrew Larnach, Sam McCullagh, Niamh O’Brien, Sophy Scott
Jockeys Joe Fanning, Franny Norton; also William Buick, James Doyle, PJ McDonald, Silvestre de Sousa
Website johnston.racing

WINNERS IN BRITAIN

2018 226
2017 
215
2016 
195
2015 
204

PROFIT/LOSS TO £1 STAKE

2018 -£339.17
2017 
-£223.79
2016 
-£316.95
2015 
-£111.80

TOTAL PRIZE-MONEY IN 2018

£4,329,621

Older horses

Austrian School
Four-year-old colt
Teofilo (sire) – Swiss Roll (dam)
Owner: Dr J Walker
Form figures: 232223
Racing Post Rating: 107; official rating: 102
He’s got a bit to find before he’s up to Cup level but he’s the type to improve with age. He hasn’t won since May and risen 17lb in the meantime, which would normally make me aggrieved, but we do think he has earned it. We’ll probably start him in a handicap or a Listed race, and he’s in the Yorkshire Cup.

Baghdad
4c Frankel – Funny Girl
Mohammed Bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiya
041/311-
RPR 101 OR 100
He fractured a cannonbone when winning over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot and hasn’t run since, so he’s had only five runs for us. He’ll have to improve significantly to go up in class but physically he has improved quite dramatically. I’m in no hurry to step him up in trip. We’ll probably start him in a handicap and learn as we go.

Communique
4c Casamento – Midnight Line
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
481125-
RPR 113 OR 109
He tailed off slightly on his final start last year but he’s another exciting older horse. We’ll start him off in Group 3 races over a mile and a half and try to build from there. He clearly handles cut but I don’t think he needs it to be soft.

Dee Ex Bee
4c Farhh – Dubai Sunrise
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
273243-
RPR 119 OR 112
We were disappointed with his progress after he ran second in last year’s Derby because we thought the sky was the limit. We were deflated when he got beaten by Cross Counter at Goodwood, but not in hindsight. He ran well in the St Leger and we’ll step him up in trip, starting with the Sagaro Stakes. He handles cut in the ground, perhaps because he stays so well.

Star quality

Elarqam
4c Frankel – Attraction
Hamdan Al Maktoum
11/4634-
RPR 116 OR 111
This time last year he was our big hope and that was still the case after his good run in the 2,000 Guineas. But it petered out from there. He came out of his last run at Salisbury with an injured pelvis, which we think was significant, and he’s had wind surgery. He’s in the Lockinge and he’ll run before then in a lesser Group race. We stepped him up to ten furlongs at York and I think he got it, but time will tell whether he’s better over a mile.

Elarqam: “He’s in the Lockinge and he’ll run before then in a lesser Group race”

Elegiac
4c Farhh – Lamentation
S & D Richards, N Browne and I Boyce
22122-2
RPR 109 OR 104
He’s been a fantastic horse and his recent comeback run was great. He’s another whose rating means he’ll be aimed at the top handicaps, and he looks like an Ebor horse. He’s just as effective at a mile and three-quarters as two miles and we’re looking forward to him.

King’s Advice
5h Frankel – Queen’s Logic
Saeed Jaber
6/10-111
RPR 87 OR 83
He’s new to us this season and is quite lowly rated, so I don’t want to get too carried away. He’s won three from three for us, having been a bit quirky in the past. It’s great to see him going the right way. He stayed every yard of the mile-and-six at Wolverhampton on Saturday and he’ll continue along the handicap route for now.

Making Miracles
4g Pivotal – Field Of Miracles
Acorn, Brown, Parker & Scott
713003-
RPR 105 OR 98
He’s another stayer who’s bound for the big handicaps. He ran well in the Cesarewitch, although I don’t think he needs such extreme distances. Like the other four-year-olds we have who stay so well, we feel there’s more improvement in him.

Masham Star
5g Lawman – Croisiere
3 Batterhams and A Reay
0851-60
RPR 107 OR 100
When we got back from winning a Group 3 in Italy in November I phoned the handicapper to complain about his revised rating, which went up 7lb. That race flattered him and he might need to get his rating back to where it was, but there are still races in him.

Matterhorn
4c Raven’s Pass – Tanaghum
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
11-1117
RPR 118 OR 112
He’s been a star on the all-weather. I felt he was flattered by his win at Kempton last month when he basically outclassed them. Next time he stepped up into a Listed race, where he met horses of his calibre, but you can put a line through that run. They went crazy fast early on and he died. He’ll go on to the all-weather finals but I haven’t yet decided which race.

Mildenberger
4c Teofilo – Belle Josephine
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
1313/12-
RPR 108 OR 107
He fractured his left knee after he finished second in the Dante, which was his last run. At that stage we always thought he was more of a Derby horse than Dee Ex Bee. We’re thinking about where to start him off but the dream is the top mile-and-a-half races. We’ll find a stepping stone before hopefully taking him to the Coronation Cup.

Mildenberger wins last year’s Feilden Stakes before finishing second in the Dante

Nyaleti
4f Arch – America Nova
3 Batterhams and A Reay
146532-
RPR 110 OR 109
She was beaten only a neck in a Group 1 in Italy on her last start, when she showed she was very effective over a mile and a quarter. She’s a bit of a globetrotter already and there are lots of opportunities for her. Winning a Group 1 this year is the objective.

Threading
4f Exceed And Excel – Chaquiras
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
266543-
RPR 111 OR 104
She was a bit in and out last year. I’m very keen to bring her back to a mile, perhaps even seven furlongs. I’m not sure she stayed ten furlongs at Goodwood, when we thought she would win. She’s a top-class miler and I’m a firm believer that when you come unstuck with a horse, you take them back to what you know they can do.

Threading: rated a top-class miler by her trainer

Three-year-olds

Arctic Sound
c Poet’s Voice – Polar Circle
Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi
211611-
RPR 108 OR 110
He flopped when we stepped him up to a mile at Salisbury but I don’t think the trip was the issue. He could run in a Guineas trial, perhaps the Craven, and he could go on to the German or Italian Guineas. Races like that should be well within his capabilities. I’ll probably step him up in trip later on.

Cape Islay
f Cape Cross – Eilean Ban
N Browne, I Boyce, S Frosell & S Richards
31521-
RPR 88 OR 82
She finished last season with a win and I hope she’ll progress through handicaps to end up in an Oaks trial. She’s ready to go now and I’m reasonably confident she’ll improve when she steps up in trip.

Dark horse

Dark Vision
c Dream Ahead – Black Dahlia
Godolphin
1116-
RPR 110 OR 111
He looked like a real star when he won at Goodwood but it was just too bad to be true at Doncaster, where he was well beaten. He was never really right afterwards but we never found a specific injury even though he was moving badly. He’s done his first serious gallop and everything looks to be going very nicely indeed, so we’re happy. He’ll have a trial before we think about the 2,000 Guineas. I think he’s a miler, although we won’t rule out bringing him back to sprinting in time.

Deep Intrigue
c Dark Angel – Abbakova
Clipper Logistics
11-6112
RPR 98 OR 97
We thought an awful lot of him last season and were very disappointed until he started showing what he could really do. He seems to be in great form and is one for the all-weather finals, where he’ll run in the six-furlong race for three-year-olds.

I’ll Have Another
f Dragon Pulse – Jessie Jane
Paul & Clare Rooney
121323-
RPR 101 OR 99
She started last season really well and then had a two-month break before she won a Listed race in Germany. It may not have been a strong race but it was still very encouraging. I’d like to win a Listed race here and I’m hoping she can progress into Pattern races after that.

Living Legend
c Camelot – Jazz Girl
Barbara & Alick Richmond
51-1
RPR 89 OR 86
He’s not that highly rated but very much going the right way. His first run was a bit disappointing but he’s come good now. I think he’ll be even better when he’s stepped up to a mile and a half. He’ll be heading through the handicaps but I’m hopeful he’ll progress beyond that.

Main Edition
f Zoffany – Maine Lobster
Saif Ali
117153-
RPR 107 OR 107
She had a great season last year, having won at Royal Ascot. Although she disappointed us in the Moyglare Stud Stakes she has earned her chance in the 1,000 Guineas. She was a bit fractious at the start, so we’ve been working on getting her more relaxed. We’re not thinking beyond a mile for her.

Main Edition (right) wins the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot

Marie’s Diamond
c Footstepsinthesand – Sindiyma
Middleham Park Racing LXXXVI
212940-
RPR 107 OR 108
He might run in France later this week. We took him to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but he never got a fair crack at it, which was a shame. He seems just below Classic standard but we’ll see whether he warrants his place in the 2,000 Guineas. He’ll need to show us that he’s still on the upgrade. I don’t see the mile being a problem.

Maydanny
c Dubawi – Attraction
Hamdan Al Maktoum
Unraced
RPR – OR –
An exceptionally well-bred half-brother to Elarqam who had some minor issues last year, so we took no chances. I never put a gun to his head, so we don’t know how good he is, but he’s done nothing wrong. He’s a lovely horse.

Natalie’s Joy
f Lope De Vega – Semaphore
Merriebelle Stable & S Chappell
171-
RPR 99 OR 100
She had a break and then had all the problems associated with horses coming back after a period of time off. That has left us very tight for time to get to the 1,000 Guineas. She’s never won beyond six furlongs, so it’ll be a tall order. We have a lot of faith in her.

Persian Moon
c Makfi – Lune Rose
Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds X
211341-
RPR 102 OR 102
He’s already won a Derby fast-track qualifier at Epsom and will probably head to one of the Derby trials. He’s another very promising horse who I’m hoping will make his mark.

Themaxwecan
c Maxios – Psychometry
Douglas Livingston
1-12
RPR 89 OR 89
I was disappointed he got beaten at Leicester last week but he was giving 10lb to the winner, who is evidently well thought of. We’ll see what the handicapper does to him on Tuesday and that will decide whether he can stay in handicaps or needs to step up. The hope is that he’ll keep progressing and he should stay beyond a mile and a half.

West End Charmer
c Nathaniel – Solar Midnight
Martin McHale & Partner
811-
RPR 88 OR 94
He’s progressing well on the racecourse and should get middle distances. He’ll probably set off in a handicap, but as with so many others in the string we’re hoping and dreaming of better things.

West End Charmer scores by five lengths at Bath on his final start of 2018

Horse to follow

West End Charmer
Only cheaply bought but has been given an entry for the Dante and, while you could quibble with an opening rating of 94 based on a peak RPR of 88, he won easily twice last season. The form looks solid enough, especially that of his Windsor success in August as the well-held runner-up and third are now both rated 86. May well be up to Group class, but could easily win a decent handicap prize along the way.
Paul Kealy

Two-year-olds

Xcelente (c Exceed And Excel – Vanity Rules) is a big, strong colt who goes well, while Fred (c Frankel – Deirdre) was thrown into a couple of early gallops and has got us all excited. Alminoor (c Kodiac -Aravonian) ran very well at Musselburgh last week and it shouldn’t be long before he goes one better.

Of the fillies, Perfect Rose (f Oasis Dream – Maid To Perfection) was disappointing when third at Kempton last week but already needs further than five furlongs. Jm Jackson (f No Nay Never – Kawn) shows us plenty of speed, while Elarqam’s half-sister Motion (f Invincible Spirit – Attraction) is a bit behind the others but looks the part. She’s very like her mother and looks speedy and strong, so we’re dreaming of the Queen Mary.

Mark Johnston Stable Tour
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