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Phil Latham: Farm tasks up to date, but a lot to do for next week's equine event

More than 850 horses are taking over 49ha (120 acres) of Phil Latham’s farm next week and there’s a lot to do before they arrive....
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Kelsall Hill in numbers - 3 days, 850 horses, 120 acres, 125 cross country jumps, 12 dressage arenas, 120 volunteers....

What a fantastic spell of weather we’re having - it’s perfect for working outside in. The cows are all out which is great relief for the team and there’s a chance to reduce our feed bills. I’m not entirely sure my father was convinced about adding his lawn to the grazing platform and there’s no doubt there’s a fairly big job to put things right. Some things do go to plan though - the muck’s been spread, the maize is going in and fertiliser applications are up to date.


The relief on the dairy side isn’t being felt by the team working for Kelsall Hill as it’s all systems go to get ready for our British Eventing Horse Trials and Sports Horse show due to run from April 24-26.


We’ve had more than 850 entries for the eventing competition which is great news and we’ve some of the country’s top riders booked in for our Advanced Intermediate section with £1,000 for the winner! The Sports Horse entries are coming in but with entries open on the day it’s hard to know quite how popular the venue will be.


We’ve put more money into trying to create additional footfall to keep the trade stands and food stalls happy and for the first time we’ve added a face painter, knowing my wife’s sense of humour I’m expecting to see my son walking round with a face like a badger!


To ensure we have the best chance of running we put a lot of effort in so that while we only need eight dressage arenas we actually erect 12 so that we can spread the wear and tear out. Our show jumping arena is huge but we have two practice areas just in case it’s wet. There are five classes in the cross country so in the region of 125 fences to put out wherever Capt Mark Phillips has designated, some as wide as 4.8mx1.5m (16ftx5ft) and weighing up to 2.5t, all of which have to be set to height, anchored, flagged, numbered, painted or sanded and dressed for the occasion.


All told, the event takes over almost 49ha (120 acres) of the farm so there’s a great deal of strategic grazing and mowing to organise. Over the next few days we’ll be stringing, signing and erecting sponsors’ banners. Thank goodness Jane, my co-organiser, sorts out the 120 volunteers a day, officials, trade stand plans, catering and prizes.


Phil Latham, Cheshire

Phil Latham farms 385ha (950 acres) in Cheshire, split between the family farm on Lord Cholmondeley's estate and Organsdale Farm near Tarporley. He milks 300 cows, mainly pedigree Brown Swiss, as well as diversifying into business units and an equestrian facility. He is also a Nuffield Scholar.

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