IT was the day the North had to prove it could match the South for fashion, as Ladies Day dawned at the Yorkshire version of Royal Ascot.

And with the Knavesmire full to the brim with weird and wonderful hats of all shapes and sizes, York showed it knows how to turn on the style.

The Queen chose a classic 1950s-style golden dress, with a gold and brown hat, while the Princess Royal sported a chic white dress with matching hat and black gloves.

Meanwhile, the Northern ladies did themselves proud and Betty Allison, from Billingham, Teesside, brought an additional regional flavour with a distinctive Angel of the North hat.

But not everyone was comfortable wearing a posh hat - County Durham farmer Howard Johnson was moaning about having to wear a top hat and tails after notching up the North's first winner of the meeting.

After the region drew a blank on the first two days of the world's biggest flat meeting, Crook-based Johnson made the breakthrough by taking the opening Norfolk Stakes with Masta Plasta.

Johnson jointly owns Masta Plasta with North-East millionaire Graham Wylie, who made his fortune by selling his holding in Newcastle-based software giant Sage.

But in the winners' enclosure, Johnson was busy telling the world's press how he prefers more down to earth fashion.

"It's great to have a winner here, but it takes me all my time to get all this clobber on. I'm more of a cloth cap man myself."

Hat's off - Page 3

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