Mark Johnston is one of Britain's leading racehorse trainers. Based in Middleham, we have achieved over 100 winners for 24 consecutive seasons. Here at Mark Johnston Racing we recognise and value the importance of the people who make up our team and so we constantly invest significant resources in training and development, encouraging team members to continually develop their skills.
The team is flying at the Newmarket July meeting! Raffle Prize (pictured) obliged in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes under Frankie Dettori. The Royal Ascot-winning daughter of Slade Power set off second favourite in the six-furlong Group 2. She was in charge of affairs early on and never threatened. The winning combination crossed the line a length and three quarter ahead of favourite Daahyeh under David Egan.
The July Course-double materialised when Joe Fanning rode the impressively consistent King’s Advice to victory in the valuable bet365 Trophy, a 14-furlong Heritage handicap for four-year-olds and over. King’s Advice is a five-year-old horseby Frankel and is owned by Saeed Jaber. He joined Johnston Racing in November 2018 and has won seven of his eight outings since, all wins partnered by Joe Fanning.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Eton College (pictured below) made all at Ascot in the six-furlong nursery handicap under Adam Kirby to win by half a length. Eton College is by Invincible Spirit and had also won on his previous outing.
Garrett Freyne’s Mrs Bouquet won for a second time in just three days! The juvenile daughter of Toronado landed the six-furlong class 3 nursery at York under Connor Beasley by a length and a half. Mrs Bouquet made all this time again, having done so over five furlongs on her last start.
Congratulations to all involved!
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Communique disputed the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes under Silvestre de Sousa. The Group 2 race, run over 12 furlongs, attracted six runners, including stablemate Baghdad.
Communique tracked the leader and started challenging about four from the post. With two furlongs to go, Communique was in the lead and nothing was going to catch him! He won the prestigious race by one and a quarter length.
Communique and Silvestre also won the Jockey Club Stakes in May. The Casamento colt has seven wins to his name to date and has earned more than £345,000.
Warning Fire also added a win to her form, just six days after scoring at Haydock. The Shamardal filly, also owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, made all at Doncaster to win the seven-furlong handicap by a length and three-quarter under Joe Fanning.
In the first 10 days of July, the team scored 17 times up and down the country!
The month started well with an across-the-card double courtesy of the Originals’s Mister Chiang at Pontefract under Franny Norton and Dream Kart at Windsor, owned by John O’Connor & Partner. On July 2, the yard scored a treble, which included an Hamilton double ridden by P J McDonald who partnered Kingsley Park 10’s Victory Command and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Mondain. Jim Crowley sealed the treble from Bath when Hamdan al Maktoum’s Huboor grabbed the six-furlong maiden by a length and a half. Franny Norton was at Redcar on July 3 to partner Hugh Hart’s Reggae Runner to victory in the mile handicap. The following day Franny travelled to Yarmouth to win by two lengths aboard Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Iffraaz in the six-furlong novice.
Two four-timers followed: on July 5 the team started on a high when Hamdan al Maktoum’s Elarqam (pictured) took the Sandown Listed by a head in a thrilling finish under Jim Crowley. The next winner was Dr Jim Walker’s Subjectivist at at Chelmsford under Jason Hart. A double at Haydock, under Franny, closed the day nicely for the team: Alan and Mike Spence’s West End Girl took the seven-furlong novice and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Warning Fire obliged in the seven-furlong handicap.
On the 6th, Connor Beasley partnered Kingsley Park 13’s King’s Caper to victory at Beverley. Franny Norton was responsible for the next three winners. First he rode Paul Dean’s Sir Ron Priestley to a half-length win in the valuable bet365 handicap at Haydock and then travelled to Carlisle to score aboard Mick Doyle’s I Am A Dreamer and Jaber Abdullah’s Yellow Tiger.
On July 9, the eye-catching Governor Of Punjab won the seven-furlong novice at Brighton under Franny by just a nose for owner Rob Ferguson. The following day, Garrett Freyne’s Mrs Bouquet made all at Catterick under Joe Fanning to give the jockey his first winner after a five-week break after a fall at Ripon.
Congratulations to all involved!
Johnston Racing ended the month in flying form with a fabulous five-timer on Saturday, June 29, the highlight of which was a Listed success for Matterhorn in Windsor’s Midsummer Stakes.
Franny Norton had made the journey south to partner two runners for the yard at Windsor, and was first on to the scoresheet when Homespin landed the six-furlong novice event. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Speightstown colt was having his third career start, having shown up well on his two previous outings.
A field of 13 went to post for the race. The debutant Kingsholm was well-supported in the market, and led the way in the early stages having been quickly away from the stalls. Franny was able to track the leader, with Homespin racing on his shoulder.
Sent into the lead with over a furlong to run, Homespin had to work hard as Hubert came with a burst to hit the front inside the final furlong. Staying on well, Homespin was driven into the lead again and at the post won by half a length from Hubert, with Good Earth a length and a half back in third.
Homespin is out of the AP Indy mare, Vaguely Familiar, an unraced half-sister to Questing, a dual Grade 1 winner in the States for Godolphin.
The Midsummer Stakes at Windsor was first run in 2004, when it was won by our own Gateman, ridden by Keith Dalgleish. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Matterhorn became the second winner of the race for the stable with an impressive victory.
Since his runaway win in the Easter Classic at Lingfield, Matterhorn has been raced in smart company. A creditable second in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes at a soggy Chester, he finished third in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown behind Regal Reality, and was far from disgraced when finishing 10th of 16 in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot.
The field at Windsor included last year’s winner of the race, Zhui Feng, and New Graduate, who had been well-fancied to land the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. Franny Norton had the ride on Matterhorn and kept things beautifully simple on him, sending him to the front early on and asking him to make all the running.
Pursued by Zhui Feng and New Graduate, Matterhorn was happy to bowl along at the head of affairs. Ridden approaching the final furlong, he simply refused to be caught and won by two lengths and one and three-quarter lengths from New Graduate and Khafoo Shememi.
This was Matterhorn’s fifth win of the year and his eighth overall. The Raven’s Pass colt seems equally effective over a mile or ten furlongs and will surely be stepped up in class once more. It was interesting to note that his half-brother, Bangkok, by Australia, finished second in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot; clearly this is a talented family.
The winning streak wasn’t confined to Windsor, and the third winner of the day followed at Newcastle, where Francophilia landed a handicap over an extended mile and a half on the Northumberland Plate card.
Having lost her maiden tag at Lingfield in May, Kirsten Rausing’s Frankel filly added another success to her CV with a battling success on her first run over Newcastle’s Tapeta surface. A field of 10 went to post for this race, with Silvestre de Sousa taking the ride on Francophilia for the first time.
On settling down after the start, Snookered led the way pursued by Francophilia and Houlton. Shaken up to take the lead with just over a quarter of a mile left to race, Francophilia had to hold not only the effort of Houlton on her inner but also the late challenge of The Blues Master, a former Kingsley Park horse, who both finished well.
At the post, Francophilia had won by three-quarters of a length from The Blues Master, with Houlton a neck away in third. Given that Francophilia’s dam, Lady Jane Digby, won a Group 1 as a five-year-old there’s no reason to doubt that Francophila won’t continue to progress now she has found her way to the winning enclosure.
With Franny Norton required for Matterhorn at Windsor, it fell to Jack Mitchell to take the ride on Cape Islay at Chester. Happily it turned out to be a winning one as the Cape Cross filly scored a battling success in the handicap over an extended mile and a half.
Successful twice as a juvenile last year, the filly, owned by Nick Browne, Ian Boyce, Sue Frosell and Stevie Richards, contested the Lingfield Oaks Trial in May, where she weakened in the final furlong having led for much of the trip. Next time out at Haydock she again led, but found things tough in the heavy conditions and weakened in the closing stages.
Ground conditions were much more favourable at Chester, and Cape Islay was also tackling her elders for the first time. The outsider of the field, Overhaugh Street, was given a positive ride and made the running, pursued by Jack Mitchell on Cape Islay.
Turning for home, the pair were clear of the remainder, and Cape Islay got the better of a lengthy duel to score by half a length, with Paradise Boy a fairly distant third, three and three-quarter lengths in arrears.
This was a welcome return to winning form for the filly, who is the full sister of Emboss, who won a Listed race in Bremen as a four-year-old for Sheikh Mohammed and Henri-Alex Pantall.
To complete an excellent day not just for the yard but also for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Key To Power recorded a battling win in a five furlong handicap at Lingfield.
The three-year-old Slade Power filly, for whom this was a third success of the year, did well to overcome the hindrance of being drawn in stall 1, and even better to repel the late challenge of Secretfact under a strong drive from jockey Connor Beasley.
After a great day which saw five winners notched up at four different racecourses, Deirdre Johnston paid tribute to the staff when posting on social media – #teamworkmakesthedreamwork.
The stable recorded an across-the-card treble on June 28, with wins at Doncaster, Yarmouth and Newcastle.
At Town Moor, Thunderous (pictured under Bhanwar Singh) made a huge impression when making a winning debut in the juvenile novice event over seven furlongs. Nine runners went to post for this Plus 10 race, only two of whom had run previously. Dean Ivory’s Dancinginthewoods had scored at Newmarket on debut and was understandably well supported in the market; even so, Godolphin’s impeccably bred Imperial Empire, a Dubawi colt out of the Street Cry mare, Falls of Lora, was sent off the odds-on favourite.
Thunderous, a Night of Thunder colt owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s George Stubbs Syndicate, was making his debut with Jason Hart taking the ride. Drawn one from the outside of the field, Thunderous was quickly away from the stalls and set out to make all the running, challenged by Jason Watson on Bad Rabbit.
The previous winner Dancinginthewoods came to challenge Thunderous approaching the furlong marker, but the Night of Thunder colt was driven clear in the final furlong to score by two and a quarter lengths from that rival, with Breathalyze keepin on well for third, albeit three and a quarter lengths in arrears.
Thunderous is out of the Dalakhani mare, Souviens Toi, who despite her name was a Listed winner over ten furlongs in Italy at three; raced in Britain thereafter by Marco Botti, Souviens Toi finished second in the Listed Pontefract Castle Stakes over a mile and a half at four, following home Brown Panther. This colt was picked up for 70,000gns by John and Jake Warren as part of Book 2 of Tattersalls October Yearling Sale last autumn.
At Yarmouth, Oasis Prince showed great resolution in landing an ultra-competitive mile handicap, the feature race on the card, under a first class ride from Jamie Spencer.
David Abell’s Oasis Dream colt started the 2019 campaign in great style, landing a hat-trick of wins at Leicester, Beverley and Haydock. He then didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs in the Silver Bowl at Haydock, and found the heavy ground not to his taste at the same course on June 12.
Sent off the fourth favourite of five at Yarmouth, Oasis Prince found the good to firm conditions much more to his liking. A half-brother to Rare Rhythm and Lyn Valley, Oasis Prince probably has the ability to stay beyond the mile trip he faced here.
Ridden positively by Jamie Spencer, the Oasis Dream colt struck the front two furlongs from home but was soon headed by William Haggas’ Destination. Showing admirable battling qualities, he fought back to seize control of the race in the closing stages and won by a neck from Destination with Wiretap three and a half lengths back in third.
Oasis Prince’s dam, the Singspiel mare Demisemiquaver, stayed ten furlongs well and it may be her son can step up to that distance in the fullness of time. In the meantime, his career earnings of just over £31,500 have almost repaid the 32,000gns Mark paid for him at Book 2 of last year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
The across-the-card treble was completed at Newcastle when Liliofthelamplight produced a career best performance to land the mile handicap on the Gosforth Cup card.
Successful at Wolverhampton in April on her second start, Garrett Freyne’s Helmet filly faced ten rivals at Gosforth Park and was allowed to start at odds of 25/1. PJ McDonald took the ride.
Always prominent, the Helmet filly was noted making good headway in the penultimate furlong, and, when she struck the front in the closing stages, she held on well to score by a neck and half a length from Paparazzi and Elamirr in a driving finish.
Out of the Dr Fong mare, Lilakiya, who won a Wolverhampton maiden over a mile and a half as a three-year-old, Liliofthelamplight has now won two of her five career starts and may well have the ability to step up in trip, if required.
The across-the-card treble could have been better still; the yard’s eight runners on the day returned form figures of 11216222!
The yard scored a quickfire double of juvenile wins on the evening of June 27, when Fred and One Hart scored at Leicester and Hamilton Park respectively.
The Burke Family’s Fred had one previous run prior to Leicester. Having shown up well in his work at home, he was sent to Ayr to contest a six-furlong maiden race in May. Noisy and green in the preliminaries, he failed to do himself justice there and finished last of the eight runners.
At Leicester, the Frankel colt stepped up to seven furlongs and faced seven other runners in a novice event. The opposition looked strong; Newbury winner Mottrib headed the market for Roger Varian while the Godolphin newcomer Law of Peace had plenty of support. PJ McDonald took the ride on Fred.
Quickly away from the stalls, Fred made all the running in the middle of the course, tracked by Law of Peace and Leg It Lenny. Two lengths clear as the field passed the furlong marker, Fred was all out to hold the late challenge of Law of Peace. The official verdict was one of a nose, with Mottrib staying on for third beaten a further length and a half.
Fred is out of the Listed-placed Dubawi mare, Deirdre, who won over a mile as a juvenile. She is a winning half-sister to Duncan (by Dalakhani), who dead-heated with our own Jukebox Jury for the Group 1 Irish St Leger some years ago.
In stark contrast to the minimum margin of victory at Leicester was the ease with which One Hart scored at Hamilton some ten minutes later.
Like Fred, One Hart (pictured with Alan Mercer up) was having his second start at Hamilton, having been runner-up over course and distance eight days earlier. Middleham Park Racing’s Gutaifan colt faced five rivals, including Alwaatn Sound, a Shamardal newcomer from Kevin Ryan’s yard who is a half-brother to the Lowther Stakes winner, Queen Kindly. Franny Norton took the ride on One Hart.
Drawn on the stands’ rail, One Hart was quickly away and led from Navajo Dawn, with Alwaatn Sound tucked in behind them in third. Enterprisingly ridden by Seamus Cronin, Navajo Dawn kicked on into the lead, a lead which she held until inside the final quarter mile. At that stage, Franny asked One Hart to improve, and responding well, the colt bounded clear on the rising ground of the final furlong, going on to score by five lengths from Navajo Dawn, with Alwaatn Sound two lengths back in third.
From the first crop of the Dark Angel stallion, Gutaifan, who raced only at two, One Hart is out of the Cape Cross mare, Crystal Morning, who won a Tipperary Handicap over nine furlongs as a three-year-old. He was purchased for £50,000 on behalf of Middleham Park Racing at Goffs Premier Yearling Sale last August. Time will tell as to how far he will stay, but he certainly seemed to relish Hamilton’s stiff uphill finish.
Stone Cougar was first into action at Ripon. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Kitten’s Joy filly had finished third over a mile and a half on her last two starts. At Ripon, she faced eight opponents over the same distance, with Gold Arch, a Wolverhampton winner in late April, and Kensington Art, dropping down in grade, sent off as joint-favourites.
Ridden by Connor Beasley, Stone Cougar made a forward move to challenge the early leader Fame N Fortune after two furlongs. These two dominated the race, and when Stone Cougar hit the front with two and a half furlongs to race, only Gold Arch was able to mount any form of a challenge.
Finishing strongly under Connor Beasley, Stone Cougar scored by two and a half lengths from Gold Arch, with the pair finishing 14 lengths clear of Amber Rock in third.
Stone Cougar is out of the Dubawi mare, Fitful Skies, who was trained by Henri-Alex Pantall to land the Grosser Preis von German Tote (Group 3) at Hanover and to finish second in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in 2013.
Gelded after two runs in April of this year, Mondain (pictured) opened his winning account in the last race of Lingfield’s evening card. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Dubawi gelding had finished third on both starts over a mile and a half this Spring, and returned in a three-year-old handicap over the same distance on Lingfield’s all-weather surface.
With Young Merlin and Fares Alpha leading the way, Franny Norton was content to settle Mondain behind the leaders, where he travelled smoothly. Turning for home, Franny sent his mount to challenge on the outside of the leaders, while Nicola Currie seized the chance to launch Natsovia with a run on the inside rail.
Responding well to Franny’s driving, Mondain ran on well to score by three-quarters of a length from Natsovia, with Young Merlin finishing a short-head back in third.
Mondain is out of the Monsun mare, Mondalay. Given the manner of this success and Monsun’s influence for stamina, it may be that Mondain can step up in trip in the near future.
At Pontefract, the 12-furlong Listed, the day’s feature race, attracted eight runners. Bayshore Freeway lined up for the Kingsley Park Owners Club under Franny Norton. The four-year-old Declaration of War filly tracked the leaders most of way but encountered traffic problems in the final furlong. Franny got the gap he needed and pushed Bayshore Freeway to win by half a length. A great effort by the filly who had won a class 2 handicap at Chelmsford four days earlier. Bayshore Freeway has won seven of her 15 starts to date, earning more than £120,000.
The team scored at Newmarket and Ayr on another busy Saturday. Victoria Drummond first got the ball rolling under Harry Bentley at Newmarket. The four-year-old daughter of Sea The Stars, owned by Paolo do Carmo, won the 14-furlong handicap by a neck on the July course. Gobi Sunset completed the double from Ayr under Jason Hart. Owned by N Browne,I Boyce, S Frosell & S Richards, Gobi Sunset made all to a three quarter of a length victory in the six-furlong maiden.
Picture: Victoria Drummond under Joe Maughan at Kingsley Park
Baghdad, owned by Mohammed Bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiya and partnered by Ryan Moore, won the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh stakes at Royal Ascot.
Baghdad travelled midfield for the first nine furlongs of the 12-furlong handicap. Three from home, Ryan got the son of Frankel into work and took the lead heading into the final furlong. In the final yards, Baghdad kept finding to deny Ben Vrackie, who came with a late run under Frankie Dettori, the win.
At Ayr, Asian Angel scored under apprentice Andrew Breslin in the 10-furlong handicap. Asian Angel, by Dark Angel, won by an impressive five lengths for owner Dr Jim Walker.