Mark Johnston – Trainer Profile

Mark Johnston
License: UK and Ireland
Date of Birth:
Middleham, North Yorkshire, England
UK and Ireland
Notable Horses:
Secret Brief, Scatter Dice, Bow Creek
Titles Awarded:
British flat racing Champion Trainer (2012)
Biggest Wins:
  • £280,331: Tattersalls Millions 2YO Trophy (Bobis Race) Oct 4, 2014
  • £155,625: Betfred Cesarewitch (Heritage Handicap) Oct 12, 2013
  • £100,000: Clipper Boomerang Mile (Group 2) Sept 13, 2014

About Mark Johnston

For each of the last 20 seasons Middleham-based racehorse trainer Mark Johnston has saddled at least 100 hundred winners, and in four of the last five seasons has saddled more than 200 winners – an astonishing feat.

The 54-year-old Scot has come a very long way since taking out a license back in 1988 soon after qualifying as a veterinary surgeon and now has as many as 200 horses in his care, many of them owned by the ruling family of Dubai.

Many people believe that it is Johnston’s detailed understanding of the thoroughbred racehorse that has been the root of his success at his Kingsley House Stables in North Yorkshire, close to the famous Middleham Castle. His horses often appear to be more powerfully muscled than many others, rarely lack for fitness, and are famous for being tough as teak. Over the years Johnston has handled a number of outstanding performers who seemed not to understand the notion of giving in easily to defeat.

For many years Kingsley House has been the most powerful racing stable in the north of England and Johnston’s horses have travelled far and wide – in Britain and overseas – in their pursuit of big-race victories.

The horse that put the yard well and truly on the racing map was Mister Baileys,  a striking bay colt with a big white face who stunned many in the racing world when getting the best of a tremendous duel for the 1994 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, eventually getting up to score by a short-head from the high-class Grand Lodge. A month later Mister Baileys went on to finish a brave fourth to Erhaab after leading for much of the way in the Epsom Derby, over a half-mile further than the 2000 Guineas.

The following year the much-loved stayer Double Trigger landed the Ascot Gold Cup, one of 13 top staying races he plundered during his career. He was named the ‘Top European Stayer’ of 1995. Johnston went on to send out Royal Rebel to win the Ascot Gold Cup in 2001 & 2002, proving himself a master at preparing his team for the showcase royal fixture at which he has enjoyed many other big successes over the years, including Bijou d’Inde (1996 St James’s Palace Stakes), and the 2004 Coronation Stakes winner Attraction, who has possibly been Johnston’s most popular horse, also winning both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas in a glittering career.

Johnston is also a dab hand at placing his horses in handicaps, a fact reflected in his tremendous total of winners over the last two decades. He has a favourable strike rate with his runners at Beverley (27%), Chepstow (24%), Southwell (24%), Bath (23%) and Hamilton (23%). It’s also worth noting that while Johnston has just a 16% strike rate at the unique Chester racetrack, he has a massive level stakes profit of 68 units, suggesting he wins plenty of races at that track with horses at big odds.

Joe Fanning is stable jockey for the Johnston team and has ridden more than 360 winners for the yard in the last 5 years alone at a strike rate of 17%, but it is interesting that Johnston has a 26% strike rate when teaming up with Adam Kirby, 20% with Frankie Dettori, and 18% with both Paul Hanagan and Silvestre de Sousa [1].

*Mark Johnston is our featured trainer in our guide to horse racing stats handicapping.