Mark Johnson Biography

The Mark Johnson File

Born: Feb. 7, 1966 (42 years old)

Parents: Derek and Joy Johnson (only child)

Birthplace/Hometown: Skegness, Lincolnshire, England

Current Residence: East Twickenham, London, England

Relationship: Engaged to marry longtime girlfriend Katherine Heptonstall on Jan. 28, 2009, on a beach in Turks and Caicos

College Degree: BA Hons in Television, Film & Theatre Studies, King Alfred's College in Winchester, Hants, England

Post Graduate Diploma: Radio Journalism, London College of Printing in Elephant & Castle, London, England

Career Milestones
First live race commentary: March 15, 1986 at Tweseldown, England
First "Classic" commentary: 1995 St. Leger Stakes
First Epsom Derby: 1998 (1998-2002)
First Cheltenham Festival: 1996 (most years to present day)
First Grand National: 2004 (2004-05)
First live race call in America: Oct. 11, 2001 at Calder Race Course
All-Star Announcer Appearances: 2005 (Belmont) and '07 (Monmouth)
First full card announcing in America: Aug. 3, 2007 at Calder Race Course
First graded stakes race call in America: Nov. 27, 2008 at Churchill Downs

Favorite Announcers: Peter O'Sullivan, Raleigh Gilbert, Tom Durkin and Dave Johnson

Favorite Horses: Red Rum, High Chaparral, Sindar, Pleasantly Perfect and Corinthian

Favorite Kentucky Derby: "Smarty Jones in 2004."

Favorite Movies: "I'm a massive film fan, particularly old westerns and swashbucklers. Errol Flynn is a particular favorite actor."

Favorite Musical Acts: "The Police and Sting."

Favorite Books: "The Gun and The Sharpe novels based on the Napoleonic Wars."

Favorite Meal: "I have very cosmopolitan tastes for food, but a good meal has to be accompanied by a great red wine!"

Hobbies/Interests: "Golf and travel."

Hooked on Horse Racing: "I got hooked on horse racing when going jump racing with my mother and father as a very young child and watching racing on Saturday afternoons on TV, especially the Grand National. Grand National Day for me as a youngster was like Christmas Day, my birthday and any other special day rolled into one."

Interesting Fact: "I was an assistant trainer when briefly based in Newmarket. I also sword fenced to high standard and I am a qualified fencing coach."


"Never in a million years did I ever think I would be in this position. It is a dream come true. As an announcer and commentator for four days at Churchill Downs this fall (2008), it was one of the greatest experiences I could ever imagine. It was more than I could have hoped for. Then to be asked and given the honor of being the announcer at Churchill Downs has left me more in shock than anything else. I am so delighted.

"A major, major ambition of mine has been to call a meet in America. I never thought that the assignment I would be given would be Churchill Downs, which just happens to have America's greatest horse race, the Kentucky Derby! Talk about icing on the cake; the Derby is like a glacier sitting on top of the cake!"