Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
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Mark Johnston: “You couldn’t help but have the utmost respect for the Queen”
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Peter Thomas, Senior features writer
Mark Johnston fears that racing faces a greater threat from the public following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, whose contribution to the sport he believes to have been “indisputable and vital”.
Britain’s most prolific trainer was talking to the Racing Post for a major interview in Sunday’s newspaper in which he discusses the recent landmark of 5,000 winners, finding the right time to step down from the training license and his ability to “start a fight in an empty room”.
Johnston also discussed the death of the Queen and said he was wholly appreciative of her contribution to society in general and racing in particular.
“You couldn’t help but have the utmost respect for her,” he said. “What other monarchy, what other monarch, even comes close, and her passion for horses, her genuine knowledge, her contribution to British racing were indisputable and vital.
“Although the Queen wasn’t significant in terms of numbers, a major reason our big foreign owners are in Britain, prepared to lose vast sums of money, is because of the heritage of British racing. That’s all we’ve got to sell, because we can’t sell our prize-money, and losing the Queen is a big blow when we’re trying to attract new money from abroad.”
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“Losing the Queen is a big blow when we’re trying to attract new money from abroad”
Johnston’s ringing endorsement of the late monarch included a warning that her loss means racing is set to come under renewed threat from those whose views are the antithesis of his own.
“Our administrators now are obsessed with all the ‘woke’ issues and the ‘licence’ that has to be granted to racing by the public, and I think the Queen was a great help to us in that,” he explained. “She was a great ambassador to those members of the public who wanted nothing to do with racing and could more easily have been recruited by the antis if the monarch wasn’t passionate about our sport.
“Most people couldn’t care either way, but there are people out there trying to get them on board and the Queen was a big asset in making sure they didn’t ‘vote’ against us.”
Read more from Mark Johnston in The Big Read, available in Sunday’s newspaper or online for Members Club Ultimate subscribers from 6pm on Saturday. Click here to sign up
Read this next:
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FIRST PUBLISHED 1:00PM, SEP 23 2022