THE queen of the “bonkbuster” Jilly Cooper is to swap horses for football in her next literary feat, Tackle.

The author of the best-selling novels Riders and Polo, and more recently Jump! and Mount! — the latter is released next month (8 September) — has embarked on her latest installment of the Rutshire chronicles, this time focusing on a football team.

“It’s quite an adventure,” said the 79-year-old, who is more used to researching the champagne-filled worlds of racing and polo.

“I have a wonderful local team, Forest Green Rovers, (based in the town of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire) who I’ve made great friends with.

“They have a hostel near here where all the players live and I’m going to try and invade it to speak to them. It may not be possible, but I hope it is,” she added.

“But what is impossible is that there are so many players in a team. Polo was bearable because there were only four, but football is going to be very difficult.”

Despite Mrs Cooper admitting that “since drifting towards football, I’m not keeping up with racing quite enough”, equestrian fans need not lose interest.

Long-standing hero and heart-throb Rupert Campbell-Black, a former Olympic showjumper and now a trainer, will be back — this time getting involved with a football team.

And Safety Car, one of his favourite horses in training who plays football in Mount!, will continue to play in Tackle — as well as going to matches.


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Mrs Cooper’s first big novel Riders, based on the world of showjumping, was published in 1985 and went straight to number one in the bestsellers list. She has sold 12 million copies of her books to date and her last novel, Jump!, sold 125,000 in hardback.

Don’t miss our interview with Jilly Cooper, about her new release Mount!, in the 8 September issue of Horse & Hound magazine