A double at Lingfield Park yesterday (Saturday, December 28) provided Mark Johnston with his 216th success of 2013 in Britain, which equalled the trainers best annual total set in 2009, and he is hoping to gain a new record tally before the year ends.
Speaking from New Zealand, where he is on a working holiday, Johnston said: We are likely to have three runners before the end of the year so the chances of achieving our best-ever British total are fairly high.
The two running over the next two days have some chance (Hasta La Vista - 12.50pm 32Red.com Nursery, Southwell, today & Favourite Treat - 1.30pm Ladbrokes Handicap, Lingfield Park, Monday, December 30) but Outbacker on Tuesday would have a good chance (1pm 32Red.com Median Auction Maiden, Lingfield Park, December 31) even though I have not seen the declared runners.
Setting and chasing records are not the most important things in the world and we would not run horses just for the sake of achieving them.
But I am proud of the consistency we have shown and was delighted to pass the 200-winner mark again earlier this year (for fourth time in the last five years).
It is all back to zero from January 1 and we will work hard to bring in the winners again.
The two Johnston winners on the Polytrack at Lingfield Park yesterday were Jalingo (11.40am £4,500 32Red.com/British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden) and Galician (1.10pm £19,000 Ladbrokes Handicap (Class Two)), both ridden by Adam Kirby, who went on to achieve a 287.75/1 four-timer on the eight-race card.
Galician, a four-year-old grey filly by Redoutes Choice, had finished second or third in three Listed events on the All-Weather since October 31 and gained reward for her consistency by taking a valuable mile handicap yesterday by a length and three quarters from Loyalty.
Johnston commented: Galician is remarkable as you dont see horses running at that level so often - 26 times in 2013 - and she is better now than at the start of the year.
The original plan was for her to go to stud next year and she will probably still do so but we are likely to keep her going for a bit longer on the All-Weather as we would like to win a black type race. The decision will be made by her owner Sheikh Hamdan (bin Mohammed Al Maktoum).
The Middleham, Yorkshire-based trainer added: I am in New Zealand for two weeks - I have seen some racing, stud farms and vet work and it has all been very interesting.
The quality of the horses running during the new All-Weather Championships was emphasised when Theology, trained by Steve Gollings and partnered by Frederik Tylicki, won the other feature race at the Surrey racecourse yesterday, the £19,000 32Red Handicap over two miles in a new course record of 3m 19.90s.
Horses qualify for the six championship contests on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day (Good Friday, April 18, 2014) by running in a minimum of three races at Britains All-Weather tracks - three owned by ARC, Lingfield Park, Southwell and Wolverhampton, and The Jockey Clubs Kempton Park - between October 26 and April 12 or else by succeeding in one of the 16 Fast Track Qualifiers.