Johnston soldiers on to a personal best with 217th winner of calendar year
Mark Johnston broke a personal best by saddling his 217th winner of the calendar year when Soldier In Action made all at Kempton under Jim Crowley on Wednesday evening.
It was a 213th British Flat winner, with a further three coming in Europe and one in an Ayr bumper.
Johnston still has time to catch Richard Hannon snr and Richard Fahey, who jointly hold the record of 235 winners in a calendar year by a British trainer. He needs 23 more British Flat winners with 39 days left in 2017.
Johnston's personal accomplishment of 217 betters his previous tally of 216 – managed in both 2009 and 2013. He had been stuck on the same number this year since November 6. The prolific Middleham-based yard continues to churn out the winners, having broken the 200-barrier on the Flat in Britain for a seventh time.
Crowley bounced out in front aboard the Alan Spence-owned four-year-old and saw another rival only upon straightening up as Lord George got into it with him, but the tenacious Soldier In Action hung on to win by half a length.
"He's a nice horse," said Crowley. "I rode him over a mile and a half last time but he stays well, so the extra trip was not a problem and he was so tough in front – just like a typical Mark Johnston horse."
Earlier on the card William Haggas saddled a double, taking his tally for the year to 152 and further bettering his previous annual best of 137.
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