The Blues Master hits the right note for Mark Johnston at Kempton

Fri 6 Jan 2017

The Blues Master helped Mark Johnston take the first step towards again saddling 200 domestic winners in a year after getting off the mark in the Winners Welcome At Matchbook Exchange Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Kempton.

After falling five winners short of achieving that goal for what would have been the fifth successive year in 2016, the Middleham trainer required just six days to get his new total rolling thanks to the three-length victory posted by the 4-9 shot.

Johnston's son and assistant Charlie said: "That is one down and 199 to go. It is good to get the ball rolling, as it is always a little bit demoralising when the score card drops to zero on January 1."

He continued:"We had 195 winners in Britain last year and four abroad, so it was frustrating not to hit 200 overall. We had a great year, though, and we are looking forward to another exciting one.

Of the winner, he added: "We've had this race ringed in the calendar for him for quite a while. He is still green and PJ McDonald said that he is still playing at the game.

"The penny has not fully dropped, but when it does and he puts his mind to it I think he will be a fun horse in the summer for staying handicaps."

The application of cheekpieces appeared to have the desired effect on Dream Factory (14-1) after he gained his first success at the seventh time of trying in the Matchbook Traders Conference Handicap.

Dropping back in trip to a mile and a half, the son of Manduro stuck his neck out in game fashion under Tom Marquand to edge out early pacesetter Santiburi Spring by half a length.

Newmarket handler Marco Botti said: "I am pleased that he won because last year he was actually running consistently.

"He is a typical Manduro in that he has got better as a four-year-old. I thought Tom gave him a really good ride.

"I am delighted he has put his head in front. He stays well and needed every yard of the trip.

"We tried blinkers, but we replaced them with cheekpieces. I don't think he is ungenuine, he just needs something to keep him focused."

Dutch Golden Age (8-1) defied a drift in the market to take the first division of the Matchbook Betting Podcast Handicap for Gary Moore by a neck, while Eljaddaaf (7-2) provided trainer Dean Ivory with his second winner in the space of 24 hours when claiming the second division by four lengths.

The John Long-trained Multi Quest (14-1) overcame the widest draw to get up by a short head in the Matchbook Exchange Handicap under Robert Havlin, who was denied a double from his only other ride when finishing second on Still Waiting in the Better Odds With Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap, which went the way of Dangerous Ends (20-1) from the yard of Brett Johnson.

Saleh (2-1) went one better than his most recent start nine days ago when justifying favouritism for trainer Lee Carter in the Smarter Bets With Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap.

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