WORLD-CLASS showjumping action captivated spectators at a top international horse show held at a Cheshire estate.

Two members of the Team GB showjumping squad were among riders at the five-day Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show held at Bolesworth Estate, near Tattenhall.

Ben Maher and Holly Smith both gave impressive performances on their final run before travelling to Tokyo to be part of the Olympics, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nina Barbour, managing director of Bolesworth Estate whose family have owned and looked after the 6,500 acre castle and estate for more than 160 years, said: “After all the challenges of the last 16 months, it’s been brilliant for myself and the team to welcome everyone back to Bolesworth.

“The atmosphere has been so uplifting and seeing people here enjoying the day and soaking up the elite-level sporting action once again has given us all such a boost.

“The level of competition has been second to none - we have witnessed truly world class sport and special congratulations must go to our Grand Prix winner Irishman David Simpson who scooped the biggest prize of the event, and William Whitaker, Yorkshire based runner up.

“I would also like to wish lots of luck to Ben Maher and Holly Smith as they embark on their Olympic medal campaign. We are privileged that they chose Bolesworth as their final run before Tokyo.

“We must also thank our visitors who have brought such a sense of energy and positivity with them to the show. It’s been wonderful to see people back at Bolesworth enjoying themselves.”

Bolesworth visitors also enjoyed a host of trade stands, food stalls, have a go dog agility and a specially created Kids Zone with traditional fairground rides, a giant inflatable obstacle course and trampoline bungee jumping.

Andy Hughes, 50, a Technical Director from Brown Knowl, was at Bolesworth with his 10-year-old pony-mad daughter, Poppy.

He said: “I love the event, mostly because it’s such a great opportunity for Poppy to get up close to the top level riders and see the showjumping live at its highest level.

“While there’s a real buzz, it also feels like a very intimate and accessible event where you are literally rubbing shoulders with the top showjumping stars and I think that’s really inspiring for youngsters like my daughter.”

Annie Mellings, 25, a medical writer, was there with her younger sister, Isobel, 22, her younger brother, Ben, 12, and Isobel’s boyfriend, Brian Mugendi, 28.

The group from Whitchurch were at Bolesworth for the first time and Annie said: “We are not horsey but the atmosphere has been great and there’s plenty to do and see even if you are not a rider.

“It’s been interesting to come to something different and I am really impressed with the event. It’s feels really inclusive and welcoming, no matter if you are from a horsey background or not.”

Also there to soak up the action over the weekend were Kathryn Beaver, 48, a police officer, of Childwall, Liverpool, Laura Perry, 38, a pharmacist of Otterspool, Liverpool, and Victoria Ferguson, 47, of Mossley Hill, Liverpool.

Kathryn said: “The event is really well set out and the main arena is like an amphitheatre so wherever you are, you can see the showjumping which is fantastic.”

The friends met while volunteering for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and Victoria added: “It’s a fantastic event and we are really enjoying ourselves.”

Other showjumping superstars at Bolesworth included brothers John and Michael Whitaker and leading British female equestrian Laura Renwick. There was also a strong Irish contingent led by Daniel Coyle, Michael Duffy and Whitchurch based Anthony Condon, a former Grand Prix winner at Bolesworth.

There are more events planned for Bolesworth through the summer and beyond.

These include two other world-class equestrian shows and Chris Evans’ family fundraising favourite CarFest.

August will see The Great Balloon Race where dozens of hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes will ascend into the skies above the estate, choreographed to music.

The year will wrap up with a magical Christmas Light Trail from November 26 through to Christmas Eve, and families will be invited into an enchanted winter wonderland after dark where there will be a rainbow of floodlit trees, lights that twinkle by the lakeside and sparkling walkways with laser lit bridges.