Record-breaking trainer Mark Johnston to relinquish licence

The most successful trainer in British racing history, Mark Johnston, is set to relinquish his licence and hand full control of their Middleham yard to son Charlie, although he won't be retiring.

The 63-year-old, who is responsible for over 5,000 victories and began training in 1987, went into partnership with his son earlier this year.

While it was always the intention for Charlie to take sole control of the yard at some point, it was not expected to be so soon. Three horses have been entered to run next week in just Charlie's name.

"Charlie's had a sole licence since the beginning of last week. A lot of the horses have already been transferred over, who didn't have entries," Johnston said.

"It was only those who had entries today and tomorrow that are still on the joint-licence.

"It has just been coming. Nothing has really changed in terms of our roles. They will continue. I just didn't feel that the joint-licence worked. It served a purpose and I'm not saying they shouldn't have joint-licences, I just felt it was a bit of a limbo.

"When we had big successes, Charlie wasn't getting credit for the part he plays. I just felt that if we were to have a spectacular winner somewhere, it wouldn't be quite the same as being an individual.

"We went to a joint-licence at the beginning of last year and the plan was it would be at least three or four years, but I just felt there was no point. I just felt it should be one name.

"I'll still be there, doing the same hours, but in not quite the same capacity as my name won't be on the licence."

Johnston - whose great horses included Attraction, Mister Baileys, Shamardal and the hugely-popular Double Trigger - added: "I just felt the joint-licence was a bit of a pointless exercise. I think in order to get to the races and so on, I will have to have a stable pass for the first time. This will be the first time I have ever been employed by another trainer!

"I'm one of the few, if maybe not the only person, who has never been employed by anyone else.

"None of the licensing really reflects the true situation, as we are both employees of a limited company and nothing changes that. The company has been in existence since 1988 and that hasn't changed. I'm not retiring."

The Johnstons enjoyed Group One success together this season with Dubai Mile in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October, with the colt now viewed as a Derby prospect. The same horse provided Johnston senior with his 5,000th winner at Kempton in August.

Born in Glasgow, his career began in humble beginnings in March 1987 in Lincolnshire before moving to Middleham in 1988, and it has been a success story ever since.

He trained a century of winners for the first time in 1994 and has trained 200 or more on 10 occasions, taking over from Richard Hannon senior as Britain's winning-most trainer when 20-1 chance Poet's Society won under Frankie Dettori at York in August 2018.

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