Ann Duffield, the new chairman of the Northern Region of the National Trainers’ Federation, reflects on the Northern successes at Royal Ascot

IT’S a highly competitive business, and we’re all out to beat each other, but there’s definitely a collective feeling amongst the Northern trainers that it’s nice to put one over on the Southern yards.

In that respect, the North can look back on Royal Ascot with a lot of satisfaction, thanks to big race wins for Mark Johnston, Richard Fahey, Tim Easterby and David O’Meara.

Loading article content

Richard Fahey got the biggest meeting of the year off to a flying start for the North when Ribchester justified favouritism in the opening race, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.

Ribchester followed up his success in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury with an authoritative performance under William Buick to win by just over a length from Mutakayyef. He is now firmly established as one of Europe’s top milers and it’s great to have him trained in North Yorkshire, at Malton.

After winning the Dante Stakes at York, there’s no getting away from the fact that Mark Johnston’s Permian was a big disappointment in the Derby. Middleham’s still waiting for the day when it no longer has to look back as far as Dante’s win in 1945 for a Derby victory.

Permian looked like a horse that didn’t really enjoy Epsom, even though he’d previously run well to lose by a nose to John Gosden’s Cracksman in the Derby trial.

Whatever the reason for his Derby flop, he came good at Royal Ascot, winning the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, again under William Buick. Like so many of the Johnston horses, he’s a real battler and it’s great to have another star in the North.

John Gosden’s runner-up Khalidi looked like an unlucky loser but Permian’s still progressing so, hopefully, there’s more Middleham glory to come.

It’s remarkable to think that Permian was Johnston’s 40th Royal Ascot winner, which is quite some track record. He went on to notch his 41st when veteran stayer Oriental Fox won the last race of the Royal meeting, the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

I was especially pleased to see Joe Fanning get his moment in the Royal Ascot limelight aboard Oriental Fox. Joe is one of the most hard working and popular jockeys in the weighing room and he’s always the consummate professional when plum rides go to more high profile jockeys.

Tim Easterby is the flag-bearer for one of the North’s best-known racing families and it was lovely to see Snoano bag the Wolferton Stakes at 25-1 under a strong ride from David Allan, who spends most of his time on the Northern tracks.

Meanwhile, Upper Helmsley-based David O’Meara has made a huge impact on the training ranks very quickly and Out Do was another feather in his cap under Danny Tudhope in the Wokingham.

Well done to all the Northern winners – and here’s to taking a few more scalps at Glorious Goodwood, starting on August 1.

OUR own stable star George Dryden, owned by Steve Bradley, ran a very decent race behind Out Do over six furlongs in the Wokingham.

He’s a quality horse and he’d have been a lot closer if he hadn’t encountered trouble in running. He did well in the end to be ninth in the far side group.

We’ve been wanting to run him over seven furlongs for a while but he wasn’t settling well enough in his races. Now, at the age of five, he’s not so headstrong so we’ll hope to have a crack at the extra furlong before too long.

IT’S a real honour this year to be chairman of the Northern Region of the National Trainers’ Federation.

We had a meeting this week and one priority is going to be the strengthening of bio-security at racecourses, so that the standard is just as good as it is at our own stables.

It’s a really important issue so we’ll be looking at ways of bringing about those improvements.

* Ann Duffield is married to former top jockey George Duffield and trains at Constable Burton, near Leyburn.