Quite simply nothing gives Mark Johnston more satisfaction than beating the big guns with the bargain buys that represent his ever-popular Kingsley Park Racing syndicates.
Recognised on racecourses all over Britain in their royal blue silks, the Kingsley Park horses have become an integral part of the success story at Johnston’s powerful Middleham headquarters.
“We’re always looking at dreams when we buy the horses – that’s what the partnerships are all about,” says Johnston. “We like to buy them cheap and hit the jackpot and luckily we’ve done that on quite a few occasions.”
You don't always need a big budget to compete at the top!— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) July 25, 2021
The @Johnston_Racing Kingsley Park Partnerships have experienced a number of memorable days in recent seasons.
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Three years ago, their breakthrough horse Dark Vision made a mockery of his 15,000 gns price tag when coming from last to first in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Last summer there was more Pattern glory for the Kingsley Park shareholders when Rose Of Kildare – a 3,000 euro purchase in Ireland – stormed to her third victory at Group 3 level in the Musidora Stakes at York.
But how fitting it was that the horse who gave him the all-time British record of 4,194 wins in 2018 was Kingsley Park stalwart Poet’s Society – yet another cheap purchase at just 18,000 gns.
“That was a great day for the partnership and for me personally, achieving that milestone at our local track. It was particularly special to celebrate it with a Kingsley Park horse and Frankie Dettori in the saddle.”
Dark Vision’s win in the Vintage Stakes was their highest profile victory so far, but Johnston admits the colt’s achievement was initially unexpected.
“Looking at him in March that year he wasn’t at all impressive and I often joked that of the 50 yearlings I bought I’d have gladly given him back, but I was happy to see him prove me wrong,” he smiles.
“The following year we had Rose Of Kildare sitting on the shelf, as we call it. My son Charlie bought her very cheaply and when one of the partnership horses encountered a problem we put her in as a replacement.
“That proved to be a great decision for our shareholders as she went on to win three Group 3 races at Ayr, Newmarket and then at York. Despite her price tag and small stature she was well bred and had a great constitution,” he points out.
Johnston’s current crop is also giving shareholders a great thrill. Hochfeld has been placed in the Chester Cup and the Northumberland Plate while progressive stayer Dancing King rattled up four consecutive wins before achieving a placing in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket.
“Every year at the sales we work to a budget,” he explains. “Even then the horses we buy have to fit a certain pedigree criteria before we put them into the partnership. It’s a challenge that we enjoy and it’s so rewarding when we get a good one.”
Shareholders pay a set price to join Kingsley Park and don’t have to worry about unexpected, additional costs. “Our partnerships are unique because we underwrite the costs if the money runs out so our owners can enjoy the experience safe in the knowledge that they have nothing else to pay,” he adds.
“I do recommend joining a partnership like ours to people who are getting involved from scratch and have no experience of ownership as it’s a great way of testing the water. Our first target is to get them to the races, get them a winner and then get them a bigger winner at a big meeting. With Kingsley Park we shoot for the stars!”