IT’S THE busiest time of the year, meetings day and night and the yard of Mark Johnston continues to churn out the winners.

Johnston and stable jockey Joe Fanning travelled from their Middleham base to Ayr on Monday and teamed up for a smart double starting with Chadic in the opening twoyear- old race, and afterwards the winning handler said: “He’s a horse we’ve always liked but he’s been slow to come to hand.

“He’s improved with every run and we perhaps took a bit of a chance running him at Epsom as he’s a big, rangy sort.

This track suited him better and he is suited by seven furlongs.”

Later in the afternoon the pair were back in the winners enclosure with the well bred Maracuja who got her well deserved first win, as the trainer added: “She’d been running well all season and it was surprising she hadn’t won until now.”

Maracuja was actually the third winner of the afternoon for Fanning as he had also partnered the Linda Perratt Dark Crystal to success, his 100th winner of the year, incredible achievement by a thoroughly talented and reliable jockey.

Later in the afternoon Escape To Glory, who has been in good form for a while, gave Paul Mulrennan and Michael Dods another winner at a track they do well at.

On Tuesday there were two meetings in Yorkshire, starting at Beverley and the feature race, a staying handicap went the way of the Phil Kirbytrained Stopped Out who benefitted from a fine front running ride from that man Joe Fanning.

It also proved a good afternoon for trainer Tracey Waggott who saddled a fine double with Border Bandit and Valentino Oyster both successful.

Later in the evening many of the trainers’ and jockeys travelled over to Thirsk for a seven race card, the most impressive winner coming in the one mile four furlong handicap with Penhill running out an easy winner.

Progressing very nicely, we might see the winner out this weekend and his trainer James Bethell reported: “He did it well. I nearly didn’t run him as I was worried about the ground. He might go to Ripon on Saturday for the Bell Ringer Handicap, he is quite fresh and he didn’t over do himself there.”

Wherever he turns up, Penhill is a very progressive horse and one to keep on the right side of.

Catterick provided the action on Wednesday and, once again, the feature race went the way of Mark Johnston and Joe Fanning as Lady Frances made all the running in the six furlong handicap.

Afterwards Charlie Johnston, son of the winning trainer, said: “I think it is just a coincidence that her best form had been on the all-weather. She hadn’t had too many opportunities on genuine summer ground.”

The happiest trainer of the day will have been Ann Duffield who ended a lean spell with Rust in the maiden under PJ McDonald In the winners enclosure, the delighted trainer said: “This wouldn’t be his track because he is a big horse but we came for the race which had the right profile. He has been working very well at home, we worked him in blinkers the other day to sharpen him up.”

Although we are in the middle of the flat season, a special mention must go to Wolf Shield who took the novice chase at Southwell last Sunday for George Moore and Barry Keniry.

The seven-year-old has really took to chasing and his trainer was on hand, saying: “Barry said the ground was quick enough and his jumping wasn’t as good out of it. We will wait three or four weeks, but when we get a bit of rain he will be out again. He looks all right.”

Tomorrow, at Ripon, the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival gets under way with a seven race card at 2pm.

The Festival – which concludes at Pontefract on Sunday week – aims to showcase all that is best about racing in the county. To celebrate the opening day of the Festival, racegoers at the main entrances will be greeted by stilt walkers, while ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire’ will be hosting a new interactive ‘Racing Roadshow’.