Former Classic-winning trainer Mark Johnston will have his first ever victory 36 years ago remembered at Carlisle on Thursday with a race run in honour of the achievement.
The Mark Johnston 1987 Hinari Video Handicap will be run in recognition of the son of Sallust’s victory at the Cumbrian track on July 1st, 1987 after the idea was put forward by former Raceform and Press Association racing reporter Will Lefebve, who recently compiled an article on the race for Johnston’s monthly magazine The Kingsley Klarion.
Following Hinari Video’s victory Johnston went on to become the winning-most trainer ever in British racing, celebrating more than 5,000 further career wins. He handed over the reins at Kingsley Park in Middleham to his son Charlie Johnston, who he now assists, at the beginning of this year.
Although Johnston’s recollection of how the three-length victory secured by Hinari Video in the Silloth Maiden Stakes played out is a little hazy, he admits to having fond memories following the aftermath of the race that would help launch his long and successful career.
Johnston said: “I’ve not had too much to do with it to be honest and a lot of it is down to Will Lefebve, and Carlisle’s Clerk of the Course, Harry Phipps.
“Harry spoke to me at the last meeting about it and I said I was very happy to do whatever they wanted to commemorate it.
“I don’t have strong memories of how the race panned out but I’ve got pictures of it on the wall, and his owner Brian Palmer, who we went into partnership with for 12 years following that and who we are still close friends with today.
“I remember Brian being there and he was a novice to racing at the time and his reaction was great.
“My wife Deirdre was teaching at school in Grimsby at the time and this was a time when there was no dedicated racing television channels or videos of the race to watch afterwards.
“She had to come out of the staff room and phone race results to get the result. She then stopped at a phone box on the way home to phone up the service again to make sure she didn’t get it wrong.
“That night we then just watched the result scroll round on Teletext! He was our only winner for 1987, but that was fine, and we were quite happy with that.”
Had it not been for the advice of now retired five-time champion Flat jockey Willie Carson then a trip to Carlisle might not have materialised for Hinari Video.
Johnston added: “I think we were fairly confident when we sent him to Carlisle. We didn’t have many horses at the time and he was our best one.
“We ran him first time out at Haydock Park and he finished down the field that day under Willie Carson.
“Willie said to me afterwards, teach him how to come out of the stalls and take him up north next time and he will win.
“I asked him about the trip, but he just said those same instructions again, while he also said give him a few weeks off as he had pushed the button that day.
“We ended up giving him about five weeks off and taught him how to jump out of the stalls and it was as simple as that.”
After securing 12 victories from 128 races Hinari Video was retired in 1995, but even after his days on the racetrack had ended he went on to enjoy a second career.
Johnston said: “We kept Hinari Video on for a long time and our first ever Group winner Marina Park galloped with him in the mornings.
“He was the gallop companion for our two year olds and he was ideal for them before he ended up at a riding school.
“He had a long and very enjoyable retirement.”
Although Johnston will neither be in attendance on the day or have a runner in the six-furlong contest, he insists he will be keeping a close on it from afar.
He added: “Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to Carlisle on Thursday as I will be at Newmarket, but I will keep a close eye on the result.
“David Easterby, whose dad Mick, that he trains with now, had a runner in Hinari Video’s race (Hastutus) and he sent me a screenshot of the conditions of the race and said that he hopes they win it with their runner (Yorkstone).”