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The Derby: Can Mark Johnston land a maiden victory in the Classic contest?



Trainer Mark Johnson (left) receives the trophy after victory with Dordogne in the Derby Trial Stakes

For a trainer that recorded at least 100 winners a season for the last 27 years, it is incredible to think that Mark Johnston’s last Classic success came back in 2004; with the Derby a race that has always alluded him.

It was the brave filly Attraction that was the last victor of a British Classic for the Scottish-born trainer, gamely staying on to win the 1,000 Guineas by half a length.

Even though Johnston has seen the most winners at the Epsom Downs in the last five seasons, he is still yet to claim a victory in The Derby and or The Oaks.

The Grandstand Complex at Epsom Downs Racecourse Surrey England
The Epsom Derby Festival takes place between Friday 4th and Saturday 5th June this year

But the trainer possesses six entries in this year’s renewals, two of which could be serious contenders come June.

Gear Up (33/1) ended a Group 1 dry spell for the yard when landing a surprise victory in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October, proving his strong staying ability over 10 furlongs.


The three-year-old colt had also won the Group 3 Acomb Stakes earlier in the season and he could well be the one to give a maiden success in the Derby for Johnston.

Sea The Shells (50/1) got his racing career off to the best possible start in February, bolting up to win by six and a half lengths at Wolverhampton.

By Sea The Stars and half-sister to Group 3 winner Sea Dane, the colt could well have further potential to show this season.

Sea Dane’s sire Sea The Stars won the Derby back in 2009

Could Mark Johnston break his duck in the Derby? There are some fiercely competitive three-year-old in the division this season, but if there is one thing Johnston knows how to do, it’s winning.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.