Showjumpers praised the first international 3-star show at Bolesworth and organisers told H&H they intend to raise it to 4-star for 2015.
The venue has hosted the Bolesworth Showjumping Classic since 2008, but founder Nina Barbour wanted to boost the sport in Britain.
Andrews Bowen started work on the new 102x62m arena in September, using surface from the London 2012 Olympics and creating an amphitheatre to host a course built by Kelvin Bywater and Olympic designer Bob Ellis.
“The show did the job I really hoped it would do,” said Nina. “I wanted it to be a platform for riders to see what it could become. Showjumping is my passion and to have such a positive response is surreal.”
She added that boosting it to 4-star was now definitely on the agenda.
“We will now talk to the ground jury to see what tweaks we need to make on the technical side to make it a 4-star,” she said.
“Cost wise, the biggest jump is from 4 to 5-star. We’d like to find a title sponsor to bridge the gap from 3 to 4, but I’m confident it’s doable.”
Around 30,000 fans visited the Cheshire venue across the 4 days, with 13 nations represented jumping.
“This show has to be up there with some of the best in the world. Bolesworth has some of the best outdoor facilities I have seen,” said William Whitaker, who took the major class, the Redrow grand prix, winning £9,990.
His cousin Joe added: “This looks like an Olympic standard venue, the arena is fantastic and it would be nice to see major championships here.”
The dates are also moving to the week before Hickstead next year (18-21 June 2015), in the hope that international riders combine the 2.
British team manager Rob Hoekstra told H&H that it was a good step forward for the sport.
“It was a spectacular event and had a very European feel to it,” he said. “To have a venue that wants to put on those shows is very positive. And if it goes to 4-star, or 5-star, in future it’s fantastic for our sport.
“Owners are an important part of developing the future of showjumping. We need them to invest in it to be able to compete at highest level and this type of show is ideal for introducing new owners.”
Rider Jay Halim added: “It is right where the sport needs to be heading, in terms of looking after owners and sponsors. Plus as Nina’s a rider, she’s thought of little things, like parking and having enough taps in the stables. It’s one of the best shows I’ve been to.
For full report don’t miss this week’s issue of H&H — out today (Thursday 19 June).
This article was first published in Horse & Hound on 19 June 2014.