When you look at stallion ratings in the morning, very often the first name I look for is Mark Johnston. He often seems to have the best-bred 2-year-olds, but is it profitable blanket betting Mark Johnston’s juveniles?

On closer inspection, perhaps not.

Analysis of trainers’ 2-year-olds on first run

This data covers the last 7 years, and clearly shows that if you backed £1 on every single 2yo Mark Johnston put out for the first time, you would have lost £253.In fact, his strike rate is right down among the very worst at 13.76% – slightly better than the pinsticker average of 11%, but worse than plain backing favourites. Only 32.87% of them go on the place, compared to much higher figures for Charlie Appleby and Saeed Bin Suroor.

Neither of those two would make you much money, either.

Overall, however, his strike rate for 2-year-olds tends to improve to around the 17% mark, when you consider every race by a Johnston-trained 2yo and not just the debut.

Analysis of Mark Johnston’s Horses – All Ages Combined

However, this is a very rough approach – we need to dive more into this data.

Analysis of Mark Johnston’s 2-year-olds – How Many Previous Runs?

So you can see that – all time – Mark Johnston’s 2-year-olds tend to start off with a 14% strike rate and a 33% place rate, but they certainly get better for the run – 19% and then 20% with a 43% / 42% place strike rate, fading slightly as the season goes on. Of course, the more a 2-year-old runs, the less good it generally is as the trainer is looking to get more value out of it as a 2-year-old, rather than waiting for the horse to mature as a 3yo.

So it certainly appears that race 2 and 3 are the ones to focus on. What else?

Analysis of Mark Johnston’s Record with Stallions

You can see that there are certainly some stallions that have provided Mark Johnston with a much higher strike rate than his average, although that isn’t to say that the stallions wouldn’t have performed just as well with other trainers. So it would pay to look at the individual stallion rating of each Johnston entry before making a judgement.

But as with all stallion selections, the jockey is equally important.

Analysis of Mark Johnston’s Jockey Pairings on 2-year-olds

When picking a 2-year-old entry, the jockey rating is hugely important, especially when you are backing on the basis of a stallion rating. A good juvenile, in the hands of a good trainer and a good jockey, can go a long way. A good juvenile in the wrong hands would be like Lionel Messi playing for Bradford City.


James Doyle has so far proven profitable, while Joe Fanning and Silvestre de Sousa less so. They have had more time, however, to become more statistically significant.

What about track?

Analysis of Mark Johnston’s 2-year-old performance per track

A 54% place strike rate at Beverley appears tempting, while you’d be losing money if you blindly backed him at Ayr where his place strike rate is a measly 32%. All of Hamilton, Beverley and Catterick appear to be statistically significant and these are certainly his favourite tracks.

So if you’re backing Mark Johnston’s 2-year-olds blindly, bear in mind that they’ll often need a race or two to improve, and that the stallion itself, as well as the jockey, play a big role in improving his strike rate. If you can find the magic combination of jockey / stallion, and perhaps find them racing at Beverley, then you will improve your own strike rate massively.