Can you catch Mark Johnston right at Glorious Goodwood?

Last Updated: 20.07.2021

Tuesday, 20th July 2021

Can you catch Mark Johnston right at Glorious Goodwood?

Glorious Goodwood gets underway next week....

It is one of the great meetings on the British racing calendar – delivering 5 days of top-quality racing action Tuesday through Saturday....

For me and readers of the ATC service, it’s the big handicap races run at the meeting that will take centre stage....

Huge handicap fields competing for big prize money produce ultra-competitive races and betting markets right up our street – markets in which live horses capable of running big races trade at attractive prices....

Seeking out those wrong-priced horses is the job at ATC. And it doesn’t just happen by magic. Nor is it a product of guesswork….

It starts with work – studying the historic record, pinpointing significant data, and extracting clues and direction that might point us to fruitful situations….

We got started on our prep work yesterday – with a look at the Stewards’ Cup. I’ll do a little more on that race as the week goes on….

Today, I want to mix it up and take a look at something else....

  • The man with the strong track record…. 

Mark Johnston has won sixteen handicaps at Glorious Goodwood in the last 6 years. He’s placed with another 35….

Johnston is the king of the hill at the meeting. No other trainer can match that handicap haul. No other trainer comes anywhere close….

But here’s the rub: Johnston ran 160 handicappers in total to bank those numbers. The full figures appear in the table below….

Mark Johnston

Clearly the challenge for punters – as it usually is with this trainer – is figuring out which Johnston runners will excel on the day. And which will not….

And that’s no easy task. As we’ve discussed before in this column, horses from Johnston’s yard frequently defy expectation....

Some of Johnston’s winning handicappers at the meeting were fancied. Others not. Plenty of other runners that were fancied ran below expectations and got beaten....

Johnston will be well-represented and competitive again this year. Nothing is so certain. But he’s harder than others to catch right....

  • Something worth focusing on….

The riders Mark Johnston habitually uses at Goodwood are worth a little study….

The table below shows how Johnston has used jockeys – and to what effect – at the Glorious meeting over the last 6 years….

Jockey Record

Joe Fanning has had the best of it in terms of win and place volume on the Johnstone handicappers at the meeting since 2015. You’d want to be looking at his rides….

But I’d probably be most interested in anything Johnston lines up for Silvestre De Sousa and James Doyle. Both have done well from not quite so many opportunities as Johnston’s more regular day-to-day riders….

Viewed in combination as go-to men for Johnston, the pair are 6 wins and 4 places from 22 runners. I’ll be looking at any handicapper Johnston asks either man to ride next week….

One thing worth noting: The ‘other riders’ – ‘outside’ jockeys who have taken ‘spare’ rides for Johnston on handicappers at the meeting – have between them produced a record that bears scrutiny – 3 wins and 12 places from 39 rides….

It’s one of those foibles in the record that illustrates how hard it is to figure out which Johnston runners are ‘live’ and which are not expected on the day….

The bottom line observation is that what looks like a ‘spare’ ride cannot be summarily dismissed as a likely down-the-field runner….

  • Where the best work has been done….

There’s no doubt about it, Johnston’s absolute best performance at the meeting since 2015 has been in the handicaps that are restricted to 3yo runners….

He’s banked 7 winners in those specific races over the last 6 years. And 10 additional placers. That’s from just 60 qualifying runners in total….

Mark Johnston

You’ve still got the issue of picking out the wheat from the chaff – because there are still plenty of runners that don’t place and come nowhere….

But sticking to the 3yo races means you know you’re fishing the waters that have proved most fruitful for the yard at the meeting….

In terms of rider performance in those 3yo handicaps run over the last five Glorious meetings, the table below reveals the numbers….

Jockey Record

If there’s one point to take away from this table – Johnston isn’t in the habit of giving ‘spare’ riders opportunities on live 3yo handicappers that he sends to the Glorious meeting…. 

His big guns – yard stalwarts and preferred alternative options – get the call for the money horses….

  • Chasing Hollywood bets is counter-productive….

Perhaps the key with Johnston bets is to resist the temptation to go with the big Hollywood wagers….

I see a big handicap with multiple Johnston-trained participants and my default setting is always to be interested in those runners trading at the bigger prices….

The recent record at Goodwood suggest this may be wrong-headed thinking. The average price of the Johnston winning handicappers at the last 6 Glorious meetings amounts to 15/2….

Just 2 of Johnston’s handicap winners went in at an SP in excess of 12s. Six of his winners went off favourite (5 were outright favourite) and another four occupied one of he two market places behind the favourite….

Even when you look at the yard’s handicap placers at the meeting, the moral of the story for punters is caution….

24 of the 35 Johnston handicappers to hit the frame at the Glorious meeting since 2015 were 12s or shorter. In other words, they had pretty much been found by the time the stalls opened on the specific race….

Where Johnson handicap runners are concerned at this meeting, the money might tell a more productive story than is commonly assumed….

  • The final word….

That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back with more tomorrow. Meanwhile….

Anything to report? Anything to say? Anything to share? Contact me at:

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd