Show jumping is to lose top sponsor Virtual Village, just months after Traxdata fell by the wayside

Although the nation has been emotionally affected by recent tragic events in America, British show jumping has now been directly hit.

Virtual Village, the company which has generously supported the Whitaker family and Geoff Billington for five years, has had to withdraw its sponsorship.

The company, whose internet business is largely American-based, has been badly hit by the New York stock market losses and is to be closed down.

British Show Jumping Association spokeswoman, Jacky Knightley, said: “This is a terrible shame for Virtual Village, which has developed a unique company over the years.

“The knock-on effect from many companies associated with America at this sad time will be reflected for some time. The sport of showjumping is very grateful to Virtual Village.”

The sponsorship deal came about as the company chairman Yorkshireman David Heap and his family compete at BSJA shows and are old friends of the Whitakers.

“They’ve been such terrific sponsors that it’s difficult to imagine life without them behind us,” said John Whitaker. “It’s been so refreshing to have a company that’s so interested in what we’ve been doing and hasn’t been in it for publicity only, but for the love of the sport.”