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.
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.
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.