CLA Member profile: Bolesworth Estate

01 June 2015

Bolesworth Estate:

 Bolesworth International

Many estates host events, but few conceive, organise and develop their own with a realistic aim of making them the best in the world.

One such is Bolesworth in Cheshire, a modern, 6,000-acre diversified estate with 12 dairy farms, 150 homes and over 125 commercial lets providing workspace for over 850 people, with more planned.

If that weren’t enough to keep an estate team busy, set against the spectacular backdrop that is Bolesworth Castle is an annual show jumping extravaganza that has already received acclaim by riders and visitors as a world class event.

The Bolesworth International started modestly in 2008, and has grown to become a highly acclaimed show, accredited with 3 stars last year and four this year. Now the top 5* award is very much is the sights of Nina Barbour, the woman whose vision led her to conceive of the event on the estate she also has to run.

According to Nina, the sport of Showjumping is entering exciting unchartered territory.  The profile of the sport is continually strengthening, attracting bigger brands, glamorous names and exciting new venues round the World.

Being an experienced show jumper with a lifelong equine passion not just helps, but is an absolute requirement. As Nina says, “If you don’t have a passion for horses and the drive and ambition that comes with it, it won’t happen. It has to work commercially and without that a serious knowledge of the sport it is not worth the risk.”

 Matthew Morris and Nina Barbour
Matthew Morris and Nina Barbour

But it takes a whole team to put on a show, and local Event Director Alan Beaumont has been working with Nina from the start, bringing his company’s expertise in international equine events to the table.

Matthew Morris, the agent for the estate, says the work involved seems to grow exponentially each year. “The event involves the whole team who are usually to be found doing their own jobs in various corners of the estate, so it is great to see everyone working together towards a common goal.”

The 40-strong team increases to around 200 during the event, with much of the contracting sourced locally and a tie-in with Cheshire’s land based college, Reaseheath, bringing students valuable work experience. In keeping with the local theme, the award-winning hospitality caterer is actually a Bolesworth tenant.

A small, dedicated team now deals with marketing, sponsorship bookings and hospitality. Specialist security contractors take away a lot of the worry during the events itself, leaving Nina and Matthew to concentrate on managing the event and “see the bigger picture”, rather than doing everything themselves.

And northing is straightforward! The actual date for the event is dictated by the sport’s governing body to fit in with the international calendar. Considerable work is going into installing the necessary infrastructure such drainage, trackways in case of inclement weather - not a straightforward task on predominantly clay soil.

An added dimension is the need to keep horses and visitors separate, as well as ensuring the safety of some very valuable horses with movements carefully planned and washing and water facilities, generous warm-up areas and hard standing for lorries. 

There are traffic management plans for people, for horses and, of course, for traffic, where the estate works with the police, fire, highways and the council events team to ensure minimum disruption off site. This is not as challenging as some events as the vast majority of competitors and horses arrive early and stay on site for the duration.


 The CLA Anthony Barbour Memorial Trophy
The CLA Anthony Barbour Memorial Trophy, presented by the CLA's Richard Goodwin to the best Cheshire rider/horse combination

As well as providing an international stage for riders and horses, there is a business lunch, hospitality with networking opportunities, food and shopping, and a range of attractions for the public set around the spectacular 102m x 62m Andrews Bowen arena in a natural amphitheatre.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work done by landowners; the estate takes a stand at its own event to educate the wider public and to generate business.

Nina’s vision for the future is clear, and ambitious. She wants the event to be the best in the world. A boutique, top level event that is also a fixture in the social and networking calendar, but must preserve the specialness of the Bolesworth estate and environment.

“My mission at Bolesworth is to keep up with the exciting developments in the sport, and enjoy the benefits that the current revolution of show jumping has the potential to bring, while making it accessible to the North West of England.

“But we couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of the estate team, neighbours, tenants and local farmers who have gone out of their way to help make the event a success.

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