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Which songs made Mark Johnston's Desert Island Discs?

Top trainer the latest racing figure to feature as a castaway on BBC Radio 4

Mark Johnston: pictured at Pontefract earlier this month wearing a Batman mask
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Britain's winningmost trainer Mark Johnston featured on BBC Radio 4's popular Desert Island Discs show on Sunday, sharing his eight favourite songs varying from Dixie Chicks to Dire Straits.

The show is one of the longest-running radio programmes in the country, with over 3,000 episodes since its launch in 1942, and Johnston was the latest famous figure to feature as a 'castaway'. Celebrity guests are asked to pick eight songs, a book and a luxury item that they would take if stranded on a desert island.

Johnston revealed that Fleetwood Mac and Slade were among his favourite artists and chose The Count of Monte Cristo as the book to take with him. The Middleham trainer, who has had over 4,000 winners in Britain, chose binoculars as his luxury item.

Alongside discussing his choices, Johnston talked about his rise to the top of the British training ranks, his family background, views and theories of racing, training and tactics and some of his career highlights.

Many racing stars have taken part on the show previously. In 2006, Frankie Dettori compiled his discs including Madonna's Into The Groove, AC/DC's Back In Black and Amazing Grace performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Dettori's luxury item was a lifetime supply of Pinot Grigio.

Sixties-loving Martin Pipe chose hits from the Beatles, Buddy Holly and Neil Sedaka and opted to take the winning post from Cheltenham racecourse as his item to make sure "nobody else could win while I was away". 

Bob Champion's luxury item was a statue of Aldaniti, while Jenny Pitman revealed her liking for Shakin’ Stevens, Status Quo and Phil Collins in her 1995 appearance.

The voice of racing Sir Peter O'Sullevan, appearing in 1997, could hum along to Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and his favourite, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5. He also chose to take a bottle of Calvados.

World famous racing author Dick Francis revealed his liking of a waterbed as his luxury item, while Richard Dunwoody could tuck into a lifetime supply of ice cream. Peter Scudamore picked songs by Bruce Springsteen, James and Elton John.

Mark Johnston's Desert Island Discs

Get Down and Get with It Slade (1971)
In my very early teens, or before I'd reached my teens, I'd already started to listen to music, although I wasn't buying records. I decided I should have a group that I was a fan of and I wanted to follow, and I chose Slade. That has remained until this day and this song, which is a cover, is the ringtone on my phone.

Pencil Full of Lead Paolo Nutini (2009)
Originally I lived in East Kilbride, which was a new town and built in the 60s as an overspill from Glasgow. Then we moved to Aberfoyle, north of Glasgow. Paolo Nutini, although he's of Italian descent, in his music he sums up Glasgow culture well, in particular this song.

You May Be Right Billy Joel (1980)
I grew up and spent a lot of time with my cousin David. I was at university and he was running a restaurant in Aberfoyle. David would tape these songs on the radio and he had homemade cassette tapes in his car. One of them would always start with this song and it brings back great memories of those days.

You're Still The One (performed by Deirdre and Angus Johnston) Shania Twain (1998) 
Deirdre and I have had quite a tumultuous relationship. It started when she was 14 and I was 17. She went off to college and a lot of people said it wouldn't last but this song sums it up, you're still the one.

Romeo And Juliet Dire Straits (1981)
This comes from when Deirdre was at college and I was at university. I think I put this on a cassette tape and sent it to her. There's a line – when you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong – I think I was right there, eventually the time was right and we got back together. We got married in 1985, the day Oh So Sharp won the Oaks. We listened to it on the radio driving from the church to the reception, we weren't going to miss out even on our wedding day.

Mark and Deirdre Johnston: have been married for 35 years

I Knew the Bride Dave Edmunds (1977)
I could listen to these lyrics by Dave Edmunds day in, day out. Perhaps on a desert island.

Not Ready to Make Nice Dixie Chicks (2006)
I get hate mail on occasion, emails and text messages. Usually when favourites are beaten, some of them can be quite nasty. During the Iraq war, the lead singer of Dixie Chicks made a statement somewhere in Britain, I think at a concert, and she said "not everybody from Texas supports the war, we're from Texas and we don't support the war", and they had death threats. It brings everything into perspective for me, this track. It makes me realise there's people a lot worse off than me.

Don't Stop Fleetwood Mac (1977)
I had to have a Fleetwood Mac record. Rumours is one of the greatest albums of all time, if not the greatest album ever. I think Don't Stop is probably the best track. If I had to save one disc, I think it would probably be this one.

Book - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
There are so many changes of character and so many characters in it that means I could read it time and time again and get something new out of it each time.

Luxury item - Binoculars
One of the tools of our trade is a pair of binoculars and, although there won't be any racing to watch on the island, there are so many uses for a good pair of binoculars. I would get hours of pleasure looking out of them and I could look for boats going past as well.


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I had to have a Fleetwood Mac record. Rumours is one of the greatest albums of all time, if not the greatest album ever

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