HE was pretty damn good at riding winners, and his wife certainly knows how to train one.
But now George and Ann Duffield are celebrating success as holiday hosts given the huge popularity of their luxury log cabin development.
Based at their Sun Hill stables in Constable Burton, near Leyburn, the Duffields opened four log cabins for holiday lets from October which have been fully booked ever since.
But there’s been no loss of the racing theme with three of the lodges named after equine stars on who legendary jockey George excelled. Spindrifter, Alborada and Pivotal lend their name to three of the luxury buildings with another named Woodlands Corner after Ann’s first business, Woodlands Nursing Home in Liverpool.
These days Ann is known instead as a shrewd Yorkshire trainer – and now something of a getaway break host given the roaring success of their log cabins.
A delighted Ann beamed: “Our log cabins have proved immensely popular and their 100 per cent occupancy since October has both delighted and astounded us. This amazing take-up is way beyond our expectations. The bookings have been pouring in this year, taking us to a total of 350 individual bookings since October. What is especially gratifying is that a significant proportion of these are repeats. We have already taken some re-bookings for Christmas and New Year this year, for example.
“We knew that our location was very special and that the lodges were beautifully designed and furnished, but the 100 per cent occupancy rate at this stage was beyond our wildest dreams.”
The four cabins, which boast views over the Wensleydale landscape, are situated next door to the Sun Hill gallops. They comprise one one-bed cabin; two two-bed cabins; and one three-bed cabin and have been designed and built to the highest specification. They all have hot tubs. The development at Sun Hill has cost in excess of £500,000 and has been supported by a 35 per cent grant from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is estimated the new log cabins will provide a £500,000 annual boost to the Wensleydale and wider North Yorkshire economy where local pubs and restaurants are already seeing the benefits of this extra business. To Ann, it all made perfect sense.
“We are blessed with an amazing location at Sun Hill and we thought we would make the most of it,” she said.
“The top field, next to the gallops, was not being used, and ideally located to enjoy the spectacular views and horses in training, so we thought we would develop it in a sensitive and creative way. Both George and I have long been fans of quality log cabins, due to their comfort, simplicity and low environmental impact, and it seemed a logical step to build four of the very best at Sun Hill.”
Four of the best indeed given the reviews on the independent REEVOO website and – as Ann explains – you need not be engrossed in the Sport Of Kings to indulge. After all, who doesn’t enjoy basking in a luxury hot tub.
Ann added: “It is important to point out that our development is not aimed exclusively at those who love horse racing. We have some of the most beautiful countryside in England on our doorstep and this is the perfect base from which to explore. We are also linking up with Yorkshire’s famous country estates to provide first-class shooting, and of course we’re ideally placed as a base for excellent walking and cycling – especially with the Tour de France Grand Départ passing through in July next year. We are already fully booked that weekend.”
Rather like most weekends then.