British Showjumping (BS) hopes its new National Training Centre in Leicestershire will benefit all involved with the sport.
In the past week, BS has completed on the purchase of Home Farm, Hothorpe, a 120-acre site with residential and equestrian facilities including a 60x40m indoor arena, two outdoor arenas, of 50x30m and 80x60m, a loose jump pen and an 800m canter track.
The idea is for the venue to be used for training, of riders from grassroots to championship level, as well as of judges, course-builders and other officials.
BS chief executive Iain Graham stressed that it will not be a show centre.
“It was always felt that the sport should have a national training centre,” he said.
“Initially put forward as a vision by our then-chairman in 2008, it is a vision that has never altered as being the one we should be striving towards. This will allow us to have a modern training facility whilst reducing the current costs in terms of the hiring of venues, travel and administration that accompanies this.
“The site is not a permanent show centre and there is no intention for it to become one. We depend on our show venues around the UK to deliver competitive sport week-in and week-out to our members; this is something I wanted to very much make clear.
“Many national governing bodies and federations have national training centres and there are significant benefits to our sport having the same.
“This is a major step forward and will allow us to deliver quality training across all levels of capability within one central purpose-built and appropriate environment. We trust that the facility will be an inspiration for everyone who uses it and that it will serve to deliver both the ongoing development of the sport and the performance of those competing within it.”
BS will remain based at its offices in Meriden, Warwickshire, which have also provided rental income since their purchase in 2012. The large house on the Home Farm site will also be rented out as a holiday let, providing further income. Having the site will also save BS money as it will not have to hire venues for training, of riders or officials.
“Purchasing a venue with a view for it being the official National Training Centre gives the sport a solid foundation to base itself from whilst also offering facilities that all members from grass roots through to top level riders can benefit from whether it be as a producer, competitor or owner,” said BS chairman Les Harris.
“As a sport, BS is in an enviable position of being financially secure. By adding Home Farm to the portfolio, the association will sit in the top tier of sports in respect of its financial security and the legacy that it will be able to build on as a result.”
Olympic champion Nick Skelton added: “Having a National Training Centre for showjumping can only be seen as an extremely positive step forward for the sport and one that is at least 30 years overdue. I stand by the fact that strengthening the sports property portfolio is the best investment BS could have made and in the purchase of Home Farm they have acquired an outstanding training facility that the membership and sport as a whole will benefit from.
H&H went along to watch double Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton put Frankie Dettori and Victoria Pendleton through their paces
Find out what the benefits of competing in affiliated showjumping are
“Before any championships we all come together for team training and if there had been a permanent site such as this that could have become our camp for a week or two before London or Rio it would have been superb. Facilities such as these are rare and from a member perspective I can’t think of anything more inspiring than for a junior academy member to be training at the same venue the Olympic team were training at only weeks before.
“I am looking forward to seeing the plans for the National Training Centre come to fruition and I will definitely be spending some of my time there assisting our potential medal winners of the future alongside the rest of the performance team working with them.”
The Home Farm website will be relaunched in the near future and it is thought the National Training Centre will open for business in the autumn.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.