Johnson Houghton hoping Magnolia springs into Pattern performer in 2018
Eve Johnson Houghton, who followed up a fruitful 2016 with her finest campaign this season, has her sights fixed on reaching the 50-winner mark again next term and capturing another Group prize, which could come via a handful of promising individuals at her Blewbury operation in Oxfordshire.
Johnson Houghton, who hosted her annual yearling parade on Sunday, sent out a personal best of 51 winners and earned £647,728 in prize-money, ending the year as Britain's leading female Flat trainer for the second successive time.
Highlights included valuable handicap strikes for Accidental Agent and Ice Age, while yard favourite What About Carlo was a Listed winner at Newbury in July.
They remain on the teamsheet for 2018 when her 70 boxes will be full, a by-product of the stable's success.
Dream Ahead's owner Khalifa Dasmal has come on board with a yearling filly by Charm Spirit, joining an owners' list that already includes leading jumps players Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose Oasis Dream youngster is one Johnson Houghton seems particularly keen on.
The trainer, who won the Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes with The Cheka in 2011, said: "We did really well with some handicappers last year and I thought, 'Oh no, they've gone up and we might struggle,' but they went on - Silver Ghost went on, Frank Bridge went on - so I was lucky and then we had some really nice two-year-olds. Hopefully we've got a nice bunch next year.
"We could have more horses, but I like being hands on. I've got a great team and it's a really good family atmosphere that works well. If you get bigger, you'd have to change all your systems - everything has to change - and I'm not prepared to do that."
Among the chief hopes for next season is the well-regarded Magnolia Springs, a debut winner at Newbury who finished a staying-on sixth in the Listed Radley Stakes at the track last month.
Her trainer hopes there is more to come from the apple-loving daughter of Shamardal.
"She was drawn on the outside in the Radley Stakes and thought she was there for a day out," added Johnson Houghton, whose Golden Wedding spoiled the Michael Owen party in Friday's charity race at Ascot. "It wasn't until Charlie [Bishop] organised her and put her between two horses she ran on. She looked like she'd fall out of the back of the telly and was beaten only three lengths.
"She's a work in progress and still very angular. She's gone home for the winter and let's see how she does - how strong she gets, how she develops - but I think she's a Pattern-race performer."
Three-time winner On To Victory could be a "Cup horse", which will be music to the ears of the enthusiastic Henry Ponsonby, who manages the syndicate that owns him, while securing some black type will be the aim for the 110-rated Accident Agent, named after Johnson Houghton's grandfather John Goldsmith, whose wartime memoirs have been published in a book of the same name.