British equestrian sport has enjoyed an unprecedented period of success in recent years, with medals being won on Olympic, World and European stages across all three main disciplines – dressage, eventing and showjumping.
But if there was a gold medal to be awarded in an unsung hero or heroine class, then it would already be hanging around Nina Barbour’s neck.
Her work in the equestrian world is remarkable, and deserving of significant recognition.
The British showjumping landscape is an impressive one, with established events like Hickstead (Derby and Royal International), Olympia and Horse of the Year Show continuing to attract the world’s finest riders.
Main image: Nina Barbour presents trophy to Grand Prix winner Will Whitaker with sponsor Redrow Homes chief executive Steve Morgan
But to that strong portfolio can now be added the Ashford Farm Bolesworth International and Liverpool International Horse Show, both exciting ventures driven and delivered by Nina Barbour.
From her stunning Bolesworth Castle base nestling deep in the Cheshire countryside, 35-year-old Nina continues to showcase standards of excellence, combining business acumen with a passion for the sport and a deep desire to see British showjumping thrive.
As director of the Bolesworth Estate – more than 6,000 acres of prime land that houses residential lettings, commercial lettings and dairy farms – Nina enjoys and thrives on responsibility, and her two major showjumping projects merely underline an endless ambition.
Nina enjoys and thrives on responsibility, and her two major showjumping projects merely underline an endless ambition
This year’s Bolesworth International from June 18–21 will run at four-star level for the first time. The event includes extensive shopping and hospitality, with confirmed entries highlighted by brilliant young American rider Jessica Springsteen, Australian star Edwina Tops-Alexander, London 2012 Great Britain team gold medallist Nick Skelton, plus the likes of John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker and defending Bolesworth grand prix champion William Whitaker.
World-class showjumping apart, Bolesworth 2015 will also include a puissance, an intermediate dressage to music competition, Express Eventing (riders compete in a shortened showjumping and eventing format), plus a pop concert featuring leading British band Scouting For Girls and a Gladiators competition that will see stars of the cult ITV series taking part.
Huge anticipation, meanwhile, will surround Bolesworth’s first elite sports horse auction, which takes place under the Bolesworth floodlights on June 19.
Bolesworth’s title sponsor Ashford Farm is established in northern Belgium among Europe’s most successful trading stables, and the auction has been warmly welcomed by Ashford Farm managing director Enda Carroll, who believes it is a major new addition to the British equestrian calendar.
“These young horses are the future stars and future champions,” he said. “People can expect to see some of the most exciting and hand-picked talent around.
“People will be looking for correct models and blood-lines, good physique and good legs – everything we would all look for in a showjumper. There is going to be a following from all over England, I am sure, and some European customers coming also.
“This kind of thing is quite commonplace on the continent in Europe, so it is brilliant that Nina is bringing this to England. It’s very important.
“It is a great privilege to be able to be involved in such an organisation. What Nina is doing for the industry in England and the sport in England is incredible. It is bringing it to another level.”
And when the dust has settled after Bolesworth, it will be all systems go for the inaugural Liverpool International Horse Show at Liverpool Echo Arena from January 1–3, 2016.
In many senses, Nina Barbour’s journey has only just begun.