Who is the most successful racehorse trainer?
On August 23, 2018, Mark Johnston, who is based at Kingsley House in Middleham, North Yorkshire, became the most prolific racehorse trainer in Britain. Johnston saddled his first winner, Hinari Video, at Carlisle in July, 2017, but victory for the four-year-old Poet’s Society in the Clipper Logistics Handicap at York took his career total to 4,194, thereby surpassing the previous record set by Richard Hannon Snr. Sent off at 20/1, Poet’s Society made all the running under jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori and held on gamely to beat 5/1 joint favourite Kynren by a neck. Johnston, who had saddled nine runners, without success, the previous day, admitted, ‘It feels a relief to get it out of the way.’
Richard Hannon Snr, who retired in 2013, held a training licence for 43 years but, while Johnston took just 31 years to beat the previous record, it is worth noting that the number of horse racing fixtures in Britain has increased significantly – thanks, in no small part, to the advent of all-weather racing – since Hannon Snr began training in 1970. Nevertheless, the new record is the equivalent of a winner a day, every day, for eleven-and-a-half years. In 2019, Johnston enjoyed his best season ever, numerically and in monetary terms, with 250 winners and £5.74 million in prize money so, while he had admitted that thoughts of retirement are never far from his mind, he continues to set the bar still higher.