Mark Johnston is one of Britain’s leading trainers, having become the first Flat trainer to send out more than 200 winners in a season (2009) and has repeated the feat in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He has trained more than 100 winners for 25 consecutive seasons, achieving success in Classics and numerous Group One races. On August 23rd 2018, he became the winning most trainer in Britain, passing the record of 4,193 held by Richard Hannon Senior.
Born in Scotland in 1959, he became interested in racing through his father’s ownership of horses. At 14 he knew he was destined to become a trainer, but decided to study first as a vet and after qualifying worked in veterinary practice for three years. He married his childhood sweetheart, Deirdre (now assistant trainer) in 1985 and the following year bought his first training yard, in Lincolnshire. Granted a trainer’s licence in 1987, he sent out his first winner, Hinari Video, that summer.
His first century of winners came in 1994. He has won the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, the Ascot Gold Cup three times and the Goodwood Cup five times. His finest horses include Mister Baileys, Shamardal, Attraction, and Double Trigger. He and Deirdre have two sons, Charlie (assistant trainer) and Angus.
He moved to Middleham in 1988, buying the Kingsley House yard to begin an astonishing success story that has now extended to two further yards, creating a major complex. From the extensive gallops set amid the scenic Yorkshire Dales to the resident vets with their hi-tech equipment, Mark Johnston Racing offers some of the finest facilities in Britain for the care and training of racehorses. The yard is the only one in the country to employ two full-time vets, in addition of course to Mark, a vet himself, and all their costs are covered in the daily training fees. Mark is committed to the highest standards of welfare for the horses in his care. The facilities include three separate grass gallops, plus an all-weather Tapeta gallop; an equine swimming pool; covered, automatic exercisers; five lunging rings; top-quality individual boxes; weighbridges; and starting stalls to practise breaking quickly. There are numerous turn-out paddocks among the 270 acres of land.