Flat trainer opens up to fill Middleham void

Ann and George Duffield are inviting the public along to their open day.
Ann and George Duffield are inviting the public along to their open day.
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TRAINER ANN Duffield is preparing to throw open the doors of her Sun Hill stables to the public on Good Friday to provide visitors with an insight into horse racing – and what it takes to train a champion.

Duffield and her husband George, the 1992 St Leger-winning jockey, also intend to fill the void created by the decision to cancel this year’s Middleham Stables Open Day, a popular tradition, because Easter falls so early in the year.

The couple say that they do not want to disappoint those who have become regular supporters of their Constable Burton yard.

There are also concerns that the Open Day, successfully staged for 22 years, may not take place in the future if the number of race meetings on Good Friday – currently two following a trial last year – expands in number to exploit Bank Holiday crowds.

“It’s a tremendous shame that the Open Day has been cancelled, because it is one of the most popular events in the northern racing calendar and has become something of a tradition,” said the trainer.

The Duffields will open their stables from 10am-2pm. Admission is free. There will be hot drinks, refreshments and stalls, with all proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Full details are on the trainer’s new website – www.annduffield.co.uk – which has seen a staggering 24,000 hits during the past two weeks.

The Duffields’ event comes in the wake of a successful 2015 on the track. “We had a tremendous year last year, with 21 two-year-old winners and some smart performances with our older horses too with stable favourite George Dryden winning impressively at York,” added the trainer ahead of the new Flat turf campaign.

“We will be introducing a stellar selection of two-year-olds, bought as yearlings last autumn at Doncaster, Newmarket, Fairyhouse, Deauville and Arcana.

“We are very excited about the season ahead. The past few seasons have seen our small yard grow in size and quality, with our facilities also improving year on year and now including a super water treadmill. Our open day will showcase the talent we have.”