MIDDLEHAM’S Mark Johnston is the new king of British racing after becoming the country’s winning-most trainer.
His landmark 4,194th win came when the outsider Poet’s Society prevailed on day two of York’s Ebor festival under Frankie Dettori.
Johnston, 58, took out a trainer’s licence in 1987 and moved to Middleham, the childhood home of King Richard III, the following year.
The trainer and his wife Deirdre have turned their stables – motto ‘Always trying’ – into a fortress of Northern racing.
Johnston was immediately embraced by an ecstatic Dettori before accepting the congratulations of racing luminaries and the warmth of the applause from York racegoers who congregated in vast numbers around the famous winner’s enclosure to salute the North Yorkshire record-breaker.
After a number of near-misses in the past week as Richard Hannon senior’s record drew near, Johnston said his next priority is – predictably – to train another winner. “It’s back to business,” the qualified vet said.
Those paying tribute included Johnston’s longstanding stable jockey Joe Fanning who joined the yard 23 years ago. He said: “Mark’s record when he retires will stand for years to come and it will be virtually impossible for any trainer to reach the standards that he has set.”