Johnston's bid for racing history rolls on to Leicester after Pontefract defeat
Not even a man as meticulous as Mark Johnston can force a reluctant horse to act, so his bid to become the winningmost trainer in British history goes on for at least another day.
Everything looked set for the trainer to land the 4,194th British winner of his career on Sunday at Pontefract – where he sent out his 4,000th last autumn – when four of his eight rivals in the 1m4f handicap dropped out.
But nobody told Lynwood Gold that history was in the offing and he proved reluctant to jump out of the stalls, losing ten lengths at the start.
Hard though Franny Norton tried to get him back into contention, the combination could finish no closer than third behind Armandihan and Johnston's search for the one victory he needs goes on to Leicester on Monday.
"That was a non-event really," admitted Johnston's wife Deirdre. "He just didn't jump.
Could he be a history maker? Lynwood Gold parades at Pontefract before his bid to give Mark Johnston a record 4,194th winner pic.twitter.com/lYIytCJy8h— David Carr (@wikiwikiwheels) August 19, 2018
"Franny said he had to keep encouraging him and eventually he came out. He's never done anything like that, ever.
"With the ground he made up he would have had a great chance, he probably made up more than he was beaten by. It's frustrating. But there's always tomorrow and we'll see what happens at Leicester."
Deirdre Johnston has her fingers crossed that Lynwood Gold can be winner number 4,194 pic.twitter.com/XMlOmzOSlD— David Carr (@wikiwikiwheels) August 19, 2018
Mark Johnston was at Deauville for the Prix Morny, in which Marie's Diamond finished last of nine behind Pretty Pollyanna, and will remain there for the sales.
So his wife will again be at Leicester, where The Last Debutante has the first crack at breaking the record in the 1m4f fillies' handicap (2.50).
Stablemate Stellar Comet runs in the 7f novice auction (3.50) before Agadeer tackles the 6f handicap (4.50). All three horses will be ridden by PJ McDonald.
"I haven't seen the betting but they're all three nice horses," said Deirdre Johnston. "We'll get there one day!"
Johnston, who sent out his first winner in 1987, equalled Richard Hannon snr's total of 4,193 winners in Britain when Dr Richard Kimble won at Ripon on Saturday.
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