Royal Ascot - At The Races

Mark Johnston

    Two-time champion trainer at the Royal Meeting, Mark Johnston’s runners for 2017 include a number of promising two-year-olds plus several useful handicappers.
  • Monday 19 June 2017
  • Stable Tours

Mark Johnston suffered one of his rare blanks at Royal Ascot last year but followers can rest assured that the Middleham trainer will be even more determined to erase that statistic at a meeting where he has soaked up success in the past.

Double Trigger set the ball rolling in 1995 when proving him with the first of three Gold Cup wins for the stable and one his staying stalwarts Oriental Fox will be looking to regain his crown in the Queen Alexandra Stakes which he took in 2015 before finishing fourth 12 months ago.

Mark Johnston Stable Tour Archive Playlist

Mark has been crowned champion trainer himself in 2003 and 2004 and he will be bidding for win number 40 at the meeting this time around. As always, he has strong depth in the two-year-old division and his older handicappers have earnt their corn at this meeting over the year in some of the toughest heats.

Johnston has a strong team once more and Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, kindly guided Tony Elves of attheraces.com through their hopes for the five days of the meeting.

All Horses

Cardsharp

Form Profile:

Made all for a two and a quarter length success from stablemate Rufus King in a valuable conditions event at Beverley (5f) latest start and had previously finished runner-up, beaten two lengths, to De Bruyne Horse in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom (6f) on Derby Day.

Trainer Says:

He is entered in the Coventry, Windsor Castle and the Norfolk and at this stage we are not sure which race he will go for. Before he ran at Beverley on Saturday I had it in my head that he was going to be better over six furlongs but he surprised me on Saturday and showed a lot of speed and it looked like he was perfectly happy at five. In that race The Last Lion finished second in it and then finished second in the Norfolk and I am not sure which race he will end up in but he has definitely earned the right to have a go at Ascot. A little will depend on where ours and Godolphin’s eventually end up but he will have a good each way chance in whichever race he goes in.

Video Form
3 May 2017:

Emilia James

Form Profile:

Winner of two of her four starts and success coming in novice events at Beverley (5f) in April (beating Miss Bar Beach four lengths) and Chelmsford (5f) in June (scoring by three and a quarter lengths from Queen Of Kalahari.

Trainer Says:

“She will run in the Queen Mary and I think she is a very speedy two-year-old with a lot of gas. Greenness caught her out first time at Beverley and she got caught close home and she has won twice since. Sandwiched in between the two wins was Chester when the draw beat her. For all she hasn’t run in a particularly warm race she won both of her novice races at Beverley and Chelmsford very comfortably. Five furlongs at Ascot on fast ground will be right up her street. She is going to have to improve on what she has shown so far but that’s not out of the question.”

Video Form
21 Sep 2017:
1 Jun 2017:

Frankuus (IRE)

Form Profile:

Finished third, beaten a length and a quarter, to Cunco in the Classic Trial at Sandown (1m 2f) in April and fourth, beaten six and three quarter lengths, to Best Solution in the Lingfield Derby Trial at Lingfield (1m 3 1/2f) in May.

Trainer Says:

He will have an entry in the Tercentenary, the King Edward VII and the Queen’s Vase. He is another I can’t really pin my colours to the mast and say which race he will run in at this stage but if I had to bet I would be leaning in favour of the King Edward VII at this stage. He ran two solid races in Derby Trials – finishing third to Cunco and then behind Best Solution at Lingfied. He was just found wanting in those races but I do think he is going to get better over a mile and a half on a galloping track. He was a very good two-year-old and finished fourth in the Chesham last year and he will be well entitled to go in any of those Group races.

Video Form
26 Aug 2017:
13 May 2017:

Kilmah

Form Profile:

Gained her most prestigious success in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood (7f) when beating Promising a neck. Unplaced in three outings this term including the Group 1 Qipco 1000 Guineas and the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes.

Trainer Says:

I think she is most likely to go for the Sandringham. We have entered three fillies and they will probably all run at this stage. All three won a Group or Listed race last year and were rated around 100 and to be honest all three have had a fairly disappointing start to 2017. Kilmah has been set a couple of stiff tasks and finished down the field in the Guineas. Miss Infinity ran in the Musidora and Baileys Showgirl in the Heron Stakes so they have all run in some fairly tough races. They have slipped down to marks in the mid 90s now from which they can, hopefully, be more competitive. If any one of the three can reproduce their best two-year-old form then they would have a good chance but they need to bounce back.

Video Form
8 Sep 2016:

Masham Star (IRE)

Form Profile:

Finished third, beaten five and a quarter lengths, to stablemate Rusumaat in the Silver Bowl at Haydock (1m) on penultimate start.

Trainer Says:

He was behind Rusumaat in third in the Silver Bowl and then we fancied a try at a mile and a quarter on Derby Day and he didn’t quite get home so we are dropping him back to a mile. That is optimum trip and he has a bit to find with Rusumaat but he’s an absolute star this horse. I owe this horse a few pints as he’s already taken me to Turkey, Qatar and Dubai! He will run his usual honest race.

Video Form
2 Sep 2017:
19 Aug 2017:
15 Aug 2017:
14 Apr 2017:
23 Feb 2017:

Mister Manduro (FR)

Form Profile:

Finished fourth, beaten a length and a quarter, to stablemate Time To Study in the Edinburgh Gold Cup at Musselburgh (1m 6f) in June.

Trainer Says:

He would be our other likely runner in the King George V Handicap. He finished fourth to another one of our horses Time To Study at Musseburgh and is typical one of ours as he’s a big staying type who is only going to get better with racing and with age. He is the sort of horse that could well be a Cup horse further down the line. A sharp course like Musselburgh on quick ground caught him out a bit. He is a nice horse who we are looking forward too for the rest of this season.

Video Form
14 Apr 2017:
26 Oct 2016:
18 Oct 2016:

Oriental Fox (GER)

Form Profile:

Tough as old boots performer who won the Queen Alexandra Stakes by seven lengths from Taws in 2015 and finished fourth, beaten seven lengths, to Commissioned in the race 12 months ago. Creditable efforts in both starts this season at Newmarket and Goodwood in May.

Trainer Says:

At this stage he would be our only definite runner and he will run in the Queen Alexandra again. He won it two years ago and finished fourth last year and has proven form over the two miles and six furlongs. Not many horses stay that far and we still think he can run to the level he did last year which would give him a good chance.

Video Form
21 Dec 2016:
9 Sep 2016:

Permian (IRE)

Form Profile:

Beaten a short head by Cracksman in the Derby Trial at Epsom(1m 2f) in April and then hacked up by four and a half lengths from Speedo Boy in a Listed race at Newmarket (1m 2f) in May. Surpassed that effort when landing the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York (1m 2 1/2f) in May by three quarters of a length from Benbatl. Unplaced to Wings Of Eagles in the Derby at Epsom (1m 4f) latest start.

Trainer Says:

He is in the King Edward VII Stakes and will obviously be considered for it. We haven’t made a decision at this stage whether he goes or not but he seems to have come out of the Derby very well. He was a bit disappointing in the Derby but at the same time it was always going to be a very tough race. If you take an exact line with his run against Cracksman in the Trial and his run at York in the Dante when he beat Benbatl, then he should have finished fourth. If he had finished fourth we would probably have been over the moon and said that is how good he is but he finished tenth. William (Buick) said that although he had course form at Epsom coming down the hill at that speed on quick ground may have caught him out. He had an easy week last week and was back cantering on Tuesday. We will see what the race is shaping up like and if he is really bouncing he could go there.

Video Form
14 Apr 2017:
29 Aug 2016:
16 Aug 2016:
8 Aug 2016:

Rufus King (GB)

Form Profile:

Easy six length winner from Invoilable Spirit on his second outing at Pontefract (6f) in May and finished runner-up, beaten two and a quarter lengths, to stablemate Cardshap in a valuable conditions event at Beverley (5f) on latest start in June.

Trainer Says:

He has only the one entry in the Coventry Stakes and he will probably run there. He was very green first time out and took a good step forward to win at Pontefract in a race we won the year before with Yalta. We felt he hadn’t done enough to justify a trip to Ascot on the back of his Pontefract run and he needed to run again. The only suitable race for him was the Beverley race and going into it we thought it was going to be too sharp for him and so it proved. He was just beaten by a quicker, sharper horse in Cardsharp and he still ran a very good race to finish second. He will be much better when he goes back to six furlongs and could proven even better over seven as the year goes by. He’s a really nice horse and he would be no more than an each way chance but he deserves to be there.

Video Form
22 Jun 2017:
19 May 2017:

Rusumaat (IRE)

Form Profile:

Returned to winning form in the Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock (1m) at the end of May when making all for a two and a half length victory from Indian Dandy.

Trainer Says:

I would say at this stage we will probably run Rusumaat and Masham Star in the Britannia Handicap. He won the Silver Bowl at Haydock last time out and he won it in really good style. He made all that day and never really looked like being beaten. That was only his second try at a mile and he showed that day that a mile on fast ground is really his optimum conditions. He is up to a mark of 105 now and he will be entered in the Jersey as well and it will be a case of Group company or topweight in the Britannia. I would say the Britannia looks the more likely and it is a big ask to win a 30-runner handicap at Ascot off topweight but he’s a very good horse. We have had the Britannia in mind since mid-April and he would have to have a good chance.

Video Form
27 Apr 2017:
8 Sep 2016:
30 Apr 2016:
4 Apr 2016:

Sofia's Rock (FR)

Form Profile:

Easy ten length winner from Wefait at Leicester (1m 4f) earlier in the season and returned to form at Haydock (1m 4f) at the end of May when beating Stone The Crows three lengths.

Trainer Says:

Sofia Rock would be one of our two likely runners in the King George V Handicap. He is entered in the Queen’s Vase and he may also get an entry in the Tercentenary but I would say the most likely option would be the Handicap. He is in a similar boat to Rusumaat in that he will have topweight in the King George V as he’s rated 105 now but he has earnt that rating with some real good wins. He bolted up at Leicester and won again at Haydock last time out and is on the upgrade. He has quite an exuberant style of racing in that he is teetering on the verge of being too keen. He likes to make the running and bowl along at quite a fierce pace but when he gets the fractions right as he did in his two wins he can take a bit of catching. He is a mile and a half horse with a mile and a quarter horse’s cruising speed. I would say he would have a really good chance.

Video Form
13 May 2017:
14 Apr 2017:

Soldier In Action (FR)

Form Profile:

A winner three times for the stable before joining Nicky Henderson to go hurdling and bounced back to form for Johnston at Epsom (1m 4f) on Derby Day when recording win number four with a two length victory from Eddystone Rock.

Trainer Says:

He won well at Epsom on Derby Day. He had a decent three-year-old year and then joined Nicky Henderson to go hurdling during the Winter. Nicky ran him at Cheltenham and he had a real hard race and he came back pretty light and not looking great. He wasn’t thriving during the Spring and his jumping campaign had just knocked the stuffing out of him a bit. He came right back to his best at Epsom and won quite comfortably in the end. He is up to 105 now and is another horse of ours who will be carry topweight in a handicap. It will be a real tough test in a really competitive race but he is a last time out winner on Derby Day and going to Ascot with a decent chance.

Video Form
22 Feb 2017:
5 Nov 2016:
16 Jul 2016:
3 Apr 2016:
23 Nov 2015:

Starlight Mystery (IRE)

Form Profile:

Winner at Brighton (5 1/2f) (beating Super Florence two lengths) and Ripon (5f) (scoring by a head from Bahuta Acha) and failed by only three quarters of a length behind Denaar when attempting to complete the hat trick at Newbury (6f) later in the month.

Trainer Says:

She may run in the Albany she has been quite busy to for an early season two-year-old going to Ascot and has had a few runs now. However, she was only beaten three quarters of a length by Denaar at Newbury and he is third or fourth favourite for the Coventry. She was doing her best work late on at Newbury and I think she will improve further when she steps up to seven furlongs in time.

Video Form
12 May 2017:
2 May 2017:

Sutter County

Form Profile:

Winner twice this season and gained latest victory when beating Medahim half a length at Goodwood (7f) in May. Last of seven when favourite for the Listed Surrey Stakes at Epsom on Oaks Day.

Trainer Says:

We have entered three in the Jersey Stakes on Wednesday but I would say the most likely runner would be Sutter County. He won a very competitive handicap at Goodwood off a mark of 103 and won comfortably that day. I would just put a line through his Epsom run – it was the race after the Oaks when they had just had a downpour and the ground was very loose and he never looked happy. On his Goodwood run he earned the right to go to Ascot and seven furlongs on quick ground would be his optimum conditions. The race is going to be one step down from the St James’s Palace and it is going to take a lot of winning but he’s another who deserves a crack.

Video Form
2 Sep 2017:
15 Aug 2017:
14 Apr 2017:
4 Mar 2017:
17 Feb 2017:

Time To Study (FR)

Form Profile:

Returned to winning form when hold Alabaster by a head in the Edinburgh Cup at Musselburgh (1m 6f) this month.

Trainer Says:

Of all the horses entered for the Queen’s Vase, at this stage Time To Study is the most likely runner. He won the Edinburgh Cup last time out and is another horse in a similar mould to Mister Manduro in that he is not only going to be a good horse for this year but as a four and five-year-old. He is another who could be a proper Cup horse in time and he would probably have a better chance if the Vase was still a two mile Group 3 than a mile and six Group 2. It will be interesting to see what turns up but he could end up against some also rans from the Derby and some mile and a half horses who are trying to stay a mile and six and with a bit more speed. He is an out and out stayer who is still lightly raced and progressive and he may be better with a little cut in the ground.

Video Form
15 Sep 2017:
17 Nov 2016:
12 Nov 2016:

Town Charter (USA)

Form Profile:

Finished third, beaten seven lengths, to Parfait at Newmarket (7f) on latest start this month.

Trainer Says:

If we run a third one in the Britannia it will be this horse. He finished third at Newmarket recently over seven furlongs and was outpaced and out the back but did his best work late on.

Video Form
29 Jul 2017:
22 Jul 2017:

Yalta (IRE)

Form Profile:

At his most impressive when slamming The Last Lion three lengths in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood (5f) last July. Finished fifth, beaten four and a half lengths, to Blue Point at Ascot (6f) on his reappearance in May.

Trainer Says:

He will probably run on Friday in the Commonwealth Cup. The Molecomb was his stand out piece of form where he showed blistering speed. We thought he had wintered really well and we were quite pleased with him going to Ascot for the Pavillion but we were a bit disappointed finishing fifth that day. In hindsight, we were probably behind two exceptional horses in Blue Point and Harrys Angel and we are going to have meet them again. With those two and Carravagio it is shaping up to be the best race of the week and it going to take a huge amount of winning. He could run his heart out and only finish fifth or sixth but he is still a horse I have a lot of faith in.

Video Form
15 Aug 2017:
9 Sep 2016:

Yorkidding

  • 5-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Dalakhani - Claxon (Caerleon)
  • Trained by: M Johnston
  • Last Race: York, 23 Aug 2017 16:15
  • Result: 8/14, towards rear, ridden over 2f out, stayed on into mid-division inside final furlong, never near leaders
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Tough and consistent mare who hasn’t been out of first three in four starts this season. Notably been only a neck by Montaly in the Chester Cup at Chester (2m 2 1/2f) in May and gained a deserved success at Haydock (2m) at the end of that month when scoring by a head from Suegioo.

Trainer Says:

She will have entries in the Ascot Stakes, Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Alexandra on Saturday but I would say the most likely option she will end up in is the Ascot Stakes. She has been ultra consistent this year and was just caught close home in the Chester Cup and won well at Haydock last time out. He best winning form has been up to two miles but she obviously ran well in the Chester Cup and the Cesarewitch and the two miles four in the Ascot Stakes is pretty far for her but I am pretty confident that she will stay. When she gets quick ground and a galloping track she is very consistent and always runs her race. As is the case at Royal Ascot, the handicaps take a lot of winning but I think she will be bang there and has a really good chance.

Video Form
1 Jul 2017:
29 Apr 2017:
27 Oct 2016:
23 Apr 2016:
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