Nestled away in Constable Burton, North Yorkshire is Sun Hill Farm home of trainer Ann Duffield and her husband and famous ex jockey George.
Sun Hill is just 3 miles away from the racing town of Middleham and the site includes an all weather gallop built into a hill as well as 50 acres of land divided into fields and post and railed paddocks to provide ample turnout and down time for the horses.
The couple have made significant changes and improvements to the farm since taking it over in 1999. In February this year a half a million pounds Equine Rehabilitation Business was set up which features a cold, salt water treadmill, a vibrating Vitafloor, a solarium, all weather gallop, fibre sand round canter and a six horse walker.
The rehabilitation business can be run separately from the racehorse training yard and facilities and is part of a 1.5million investment into the property which has also seen the development of a small number of luxury lodges in which Ann and her husband have ventured into the tourism industry as a way to assist funding their racehorse training business.
Ann, originally from Liverpool has always had an interest in horses from a young age, from owning ponies when she was a child she went on to buying and selling horses mainly hunters and eventers in the late 80’s before concentrating on horse racing a few years later and taking out a trainer’s licence in 1993.
Previously married to the late Alan Swinbank (died 17th May 2017) who trained winners on the flat and jumps, Ann then known as Swinbank trained under her own name at Hurgill Lodge, Richmond, North Yorkshire for just over 2 years after splitting from Alan. She trained her first solo winner in 1996 when Pharmistice scored at Kelso on 2nd December.
George Duffield who was still riding for his boss Sir Mark Prescott for whom he rode 830 winners over 30 years would often ride out for Ann at her stables in his spare time.
They subsequently married and he became assistant trainer to wife Ann and retired as a jockey in 2005. Amazingly at 71 George still rides out and is not willing to give up the riding although “he doesn’t get on the yearlings and youngsters until they are broken and into work now,” said Ann.
Since that time and with George’s vast knowledge of the flat they have concentrated most of their efforts on the level but Ann who has 30 horses in at the moment and has enjoyed previous success in National Hunt said “Ideally I would like 40 and I would love to have some jumpers.”
From 1992 to 2018 (present day) Ann has trained 371 winners on the flat and 1,267 places from 4,332 runners, earning more than £2 million in prize money (source Racing Post). Over jumps the statistics are not as high due to less runners but she has still managed to win races in 17 out of the 25 seasons she has raced jumpers.
Her main success has been with 2 year olds particularly fillies in which so far in her career she has guided both Melody of Love and Dark Reckoning to Group 3 success and she has also won listed events with Lady Rangali, Zenella and with the colt Willie the Whipper.
More info on Racing Post