19th August 2015

All in all, a very successful sale at Deauville with a total of five purchases which is one up on the same time last year. But those who are trying to portray me as the new Jack Berry should note that my yearlings, so far, are by Dalakhani, Manduro, Motivator, Rock of Gibraltar, and Henrythenavigator. And all from middle-distance families. They are more likely to be winning the 2017 Queen’s Vase than the 2016 Brocklesby but I can’t, and won’t, change my passion for middle-distance horses or my desire to acquire pedigrees with some hope of Classic success.

That said, I am off to Doncaster next week where, last year, I did acquire the Brocklesby winner and I will be looking for a different type of horse there. I’ll be looking for a different type of animal there but I still won’t compromise on pedigree too much. There needs to be some class in there.

We kick off at York today with seven runners and I’m hoping for a busy, and fruitful, week. Much has been made, particularly in the media, of our disappointing record at York in the last few years so it is very interesting to note that I am still 7th in today’s Racing Post, York, (2011+) trainers table from the 47 trainers with runners today. I don’t deny that the strike rate of 6% is way below that which I would normally be aiming for but it is the same as Richard Fahey’s (2nd in that table) and Tim Easterby (5th). So what is all the fuss about? It can only be that I set a much higher standard in years gone by and the drop from those levels puzzles me as much as anyone.

Richard Hughes wrote a very interesting piece at the weekend about the tendency for races to be run up the middle of the track at York in recent years and it is possible that our downturn in form there coincided with that change. Richard doesn’t believe that that has anything to do with the ground and suggests that the riders have collectively opted to come to the middle to open up the races and remove the advantage previously held by front runners who hogged the rail. Interesting? I wonder how many of those front runners were trained by M. Johnston. Maybe it is time for us to try and turn the clock back.

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