Johnston - British racing's record-breaking 'Braveheart'

Pirate IRWIN
Mark Johnston has won three classics and 43 races at the world's most famous racing festival Royal Ascot

Mark Johnston is well known for calling a spade a spade and he is not sparing when assessing how history will judge his feat in becoming Britain's record-breaking trainer of winners.

The charismatic 58-year-old Scotsman -- whose runners are easily identifiable as stable staff sport tartan -- concedes he welcomes the attention it has brought but acknowledges that memories are short.

"Somebody asked me what will I be remembered for," he told The Times prior to his breaking Richard Hannon Senior's landmark of 4,193 career winners with Poet's Society at York on Thursday.

"I said, 'I don't think I will be remembered at all'.

Johnston -- who on his father's advice gave himself some insurance in case training failed by qualifying as a vet -- does not take fools lightly.

That has earned him the nickname 'Braveheart' after the fiery bellicose Scottish independence leader William Wallace.

"I just cannot help but argue the toss," he says in his biography 'Mark Johnston: The Authorised Biography'.

His father according to Johnston's wife Deirdre -- who has been an integral part of his success -- would concur with his son's assessment.

"He always has an opinion and loves provoking and sometimes if you said black he’d say white just to prompt a debate," she told The Times.

"His dad said he would have an argument in an empty room."

Deirdre, though, says he is also capable of being the life and soul of a party.

"Away from the racing he is very relaxed, very good fun, tells lots of jokes, loves a drink and you see a very different side to him."

- 'I'm still not content' -

The perception too of a man who sends his legions out, from the unfashionable training base of Middleham in Yorkshire where he has been since 1988, flooding the minor racecourses with runners in search of winners is far from the truth too.

He has tasted classic success, Mister Baileys winning the English 2000 Guineas and his superstar filly Attraction landing the 2004 English and Irish 1000 Guineas and has over 40 winners at perhaps the most prestigious meeting in the world Royal Ascot including three Ascot Gold Cups.

There is, though, a restlessness about him and appropriate for a man whose motto is 'Always Trying' a certain lack of self-belief.

"I often ask myself whether I am as good as I was," he told the Racing Post.

He was even more forthright to the BBC earlier this year.

"I was never content with what we had -- I'm still not content with what we've got or what we're doing; I've always wanted to achieve more."

However, he realises that at some point he will have to be content with his legacy and hand over the reins like his idol jumps racing legend Martin Pipe did to his son David in Johnston's case to his own son Charlie.

The younger Johnston is cut from the same cloth as his father in being a qualified vet but he hopes his parents realise how great their achievement is.

"I hope they take a huge amount of pride in it because it is something very special, something I hope no one will ever beat -— apart from me," he told The Times.