The chief executive of Rockingham Castle writes for the Telegraph.
Brigstock International Horse Trials’ first year at Rockingham Castle took place in May 2013.
After 12 months planning and designing an international equestrian cross country course, undertaking the build, arranging the site layout, talking to sponsors and trade stands, planning the marketing and arranging all the myriad of staff and volunteers the event was a triumph.
No fewer than 16 countries were represented by riders, including 12 Olympians who less than a year before had ridden for medal glory.
William Fox-Pitt and Mark Todd were among those who tackled Burghley course-builder Philip Herbert’s course, which had been inspected and endorsed by Captain Mark Philips.
The event attracted 6,000 visitors over three days of world class equestrian competition, exceeding expectations and delighting everyone.
Needless to say 2013 was just the first year of what Rockingham Castle Estate view as a long-term commitment.
Sponsors came in significant numbers.
Estate and land agents King West embraced the role of principal sponsor and used the event not only to raise the profile of their well-respected business but to entertain both clients and potential clients.
With so many visitors, volunteers and riders flocking to Rockingham, the economic benefits were felt over the wider area.
The hotels and B&Bs of Corby benefitted, with riders and their teams staying in the locality.
Perhaps less obviously, many riders stabled their horses off site in local yards, bringing in much appreciated income, while the Best Western Rockingham Forest Hotel secured significant bookings.
The anticipation was that the event would attract a broader audience than dedicated equestrian followers.
For that reason attractions ranged from falconry to a petting farm for children, along with a bouncy castle and climbing wall.
The final component of the event was made up by 80 trade stands. Euromec in Market Harborough promoted their domestic and commercial mowers and off road vehicles, The Marquess of Exeter in Lyddington their Michelin-starred restaurant and beautiful bedrooms while Land Rover Experience promoted off-road driving. Other stands offered items ranging from pictures and boots to country clothing and cup cakes.
The 2014 event is taking shape, with an increased number of sponsors, trade stands and caterers.
If last year was a good guide for the future, the riders will return in force, and visitors will flood in.
It’s all good for Corby and environs.