'How many owners are we going to lose?' - Mark Johnston on fears for the future

Mark Johnston has said he is "delighted" at the response of his owners to the Covid-19 crisis but has admitted to fears over how long that can continue.

Johnston, speaking to the Racing Post for a big interview in Sunday's newspaper, said: "The big concern is going forward. How many owners are we going to lose? They're getting no fun out of it and it really focuses their mind on the cost.

"People assume we're insulated from what's happening by the size of our business, and it's true we've been insulated so far, but only by the willingness of our owners, and we're no longer insulated if they change their minds.

"We've got a few owners who have said they aren't buying a horse this year and one who's giving up completely. We don't know yet what we're getting from Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan, Darley, Godolphin, and that's where we could be hit very hard. For everybody the question is the same: are we losing horses?"

Johnston himself has had a dramatic year and discusses in detail his own struggles with Covid-19 and subsequent recovery, but on the track at least things have continued to go brilliantly, with son Charlie playing an ever-increasing role as the yard soared past £2 million in prize-money and 150 winners, most notably a memorable Dante-Musidora double with Thunderous and Rose Of Kildare.

However, Johnston added: "It's not about this year. We've done fine this year, and I'm delighted at the response of our owners to the Covid crisis, but then I'm pessimistic when I consider what's in it for them and how long they'll keep doing it."