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Main Edition presses all the right buttons to mark potentially historic week for Middleham trainer Johnston

Trainer Mark Johnston, right, and connections after Main Edition's Royal Ascot win.
Trainer Mark Johnston, right, and connections after Main Edition's Royal Ascot win.
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A POTENTIALLY historic week for North Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston began with Main Edition returning to winning ways and confirming her credentials as one of the most promising two-year-old fillies.

The horse’s win in Newmarket’s seven furlong Group Three Sweet Solera Stakes, a race for equine stars of the future, left the Middleham trainer within touching distance of Richard Hannon senior’s all-time record of 4,193 winners.

Main Edition (right) winning at Royal Ascot. PIC: John Walton/PA Wire

Main Edition (right) winning at Royal Ascot. PIC: John Walton/PA Wire

And like so many Johnston runners over the years, Main Edition battled it out gamely – this time under in-form jockey PJ McDonald – to defeat La Pelosa by a length and a quarter.

It also vindicated the trainer’s faith in his Royal Ascot heroine who was then luckless in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting after being denied a clear run.

“The step up to seven was no problem. We needed a bit of a confidence booster after the last run, as she was clearly badly hampered,” said the victorious trainer.

“I don’t know if it knocked her mentally, but we needed to get a confidence booster and a race going smoothly.

Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston

“I think she was beaten at the time when she was hampered and she got very upset at the start. She got edgy at the start again, as there was a delay opening the stalls, but it was nice to have a nice straightforward race to get her back on track.

“She has more than confirmed the form of Ascot. I’ve not got any immediate plans. That’s the thing now, where do we go at seven? We will just go home and think about it.”

Main Edition was left unchanged at 16-1 for next year’s Qipco 1000 Guineas by Paddy Power.

Meanwhile Alpha Centauri continued her fantastic campaign with an impressive victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

Alpha Centauri. PIC: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Alpha Centauri. PIC: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Jessica Harrington’s filly has arguably been the star of the season so far, following up her Irish 1,000 Guineas triumph with scintillating displays in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.

She was a 10-11 favourite to claim a fourth successive Group One victory in France and her supporters had few nervous moments as she recorded a fourth Group One win of the year.

Harrington, who has also enjoyed many landmark wins at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival, said: “She’s an amazing filly. I must admit, bringing her here to take on colts and older horses, I thought I must be mad. But then again, I felt we might as well keep her going and it was a fantastic performance.

“Three furlongs down she decided it was time to go, which was longer from the finish than I’d hoped. When she does that, you hope she’s not burning up too much energy because there are several possibilities now.

“She’s in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, the Sun Chariot at Newmarket and the mile at Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and if she does make it through to the Breeders’ Cup, it will have been a very long season by then.

“She’s given me a few sleepless nights, I have to admit that, but it’s not quite like training Moscow Flyer as there are no fences to worry about!”

n Pesto’s win in the opener at Leicester yesterday was in-form jockey Oisin Murphy’s 127th domestic success this year, the same number of winners that the former champion conditional rider recorded in the whole of last year.