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Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Johnston has Vision but now he must decide whether to keep or sell

Vintage performance: the Mark Johnston-trained Dark Vision pounces late under Silvestre de Sousa to win the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes
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If you are going to have a problem, have a nice one.

The lucky 19 people who own Dark Vision now have such a problem. Their trainer Mark Johnston will be the one who must decide how to solve it.

In Dark Vision, the striking last-to-first winner of the Qatar Vintage Stakes, the Kingsley Park 10 partnership is now in possession of a most valuable commodity, a colt quoted at just 20-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.

Relive Dark Vision's Vintage Stakes win

Each member of the syndicate paid a total of £7,000 to cover the purchase price and juvenile season training fees of three horses, described as at one point "left on the shelf, unsold" by Johnston.

One of the three, Victory Command, landed an Ascot Listed race on Saturday, but the best appears to be Dark Vision, a 15,000gns yearling who could now be worth a seven-figure sum to a big owner with big pockets.

To keep or to sell. Johnston must decide.

"It's very difficult," said Johnston.

"A problem with inexperienced owners is sometimes that they get carried away with the dream. You have to be sensible.

"They've now gone from gambling £7,000 to gambling hundreds of thousands of pounds – and it is a gamble. We had a real good horse last year who attracted a £750,000 offer after one run. He was beaten next time and that was hundreds of thousands lost.

"A couple of years ago, when I first started doing these Kingsley Park partnerships, we had a big offer for a filly. At that stage the rules said there had to be a unanimous decision. Getting a unanimous decision from 19 people is impossible – so I changed the rules and now it's my decision."

Mark Johnston is surrounded by the media after Dark Vision's win

The Kingsleys can take heart from the fact Johnston has yet to let them down. Two of his three previous Vintage winners, Mister Baileys and Shamardal, went on to Classic glory. The manner in which Dark Vision mowed down Dunkerron and Confiding under Silvestre de Sousa suggests he deserves to be at least talked of as a long-range Classic contender.

"When he missed the break here I thought it was all over," said Johnston. "At this stage if he had come fourth I would have thought I had a really nice horse on my hands. The biggest problem I'll have now will be keeping everyone's feet on the ground."

That's another nice problem to have.

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They've now gone from gambling £7,000 to gambling hundreds of thousands of pounds - and it is a gamble
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