MARK JOHNSTON saddles three runners today as he bids to become the winning-most trainer in British racing history.
He drew level with the now- retired Richard Hannon senior on the 4,193 winner mark when Ripon’s finale on Saturday went to Dr Richard Kimble after Quintada’s earlier win at Doncaster.
Johnston, 58, could have eclipsed Hannon at Pontefract yesterday but his sole runner, Lynwood Gold, could only finish third after completely missing the break under jockey Franny Norton.
Today the Middleham trainer runs The Last Debutante, Stellar Comet and Agadeer at Leicester. If they don’t prevail, he has multiple entries the length and breadth of the country tomorrow at Hamilton, Brighton, Kempton and Yarmouth.
Johnston’s record-equalling win came courtesy of long-time stable jockey Joe Fanning who made every yard of the running on Dr Richard Kimble. These tactics have worked to great effect over the years and Fanning said: “It’s nice to be on the one that equals the record.
“This is a nice horse, he’s been to some of the bigger meetings, and the blinkers helped him bounce back today. It’s a great firm to ride for, I’ve been there a very long time now.
“They never tie you down with orders. I’ve been with him so long I think we both know each other well enough now.
“His horses are so straightforward and usually very simple to ride.”
Fanning was completing a double after winning the William Hill Great St Wilfrid, Ripon’s feature race of the year, on Gunmetal.
It was Thirsk trainer David Barron’s second success in the historic handicap – his first win came 27 years ago on the Alex Greaves-ridden Premier Touch in 1991.
Gunmetal won his first two starts for Barron since leaving Charlie Hills but had been well beaten in Ireland and then Goodwood’s Stewards’ Cup.
However, Gunmetal turned a competitive handicap into something of a procession, beating Dakota Gold by two and three-quarter lengths.
Barron said: “He’s done it really well in the end.
“He had a bad draw when we took him to Ireland, then at Goodwood he gave himself a bit of a fright coming down the hill, but as soon as he levelled out he was fine and ran on well.
“We paid 47,000 guineas for him at the sales and that looks all right now. Obviously he’s entered up at Ayr (Gold Cup), but he’s better on quicker ground than softer and he’ll be reassessed by the handicapper, so we’ll just have a think.”
John Quinn’s Royal Ascot heroine Signora Cabello had to settle for second in the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville. Trained near Malton, the two-year-old filly had a terrific tussle with the Michael Bell-trained Pretty Pollyanna who just held on.
The pair had pulled well clear of the Karl Burke-trained True Mason who was third under PJ McDonald.
Leyburn-based Burke and McDonald will team up with Laurens in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks at York when John Dance’s horse of a lifetime seeks a fourth Group One win.
Laurens had a significant piece of work on Friday on the gallops and Burke reported afterwards: “She went as well as I’ve seen her, to be honest. “We’re very happy with her.
“She’ll have a pipe-opener on Tuesday and that will be it.”