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Show jumping enjoys heightened popularity

TV series Only Fools and Horses has sparked a wave of interest in show jumping, according to the BSJA. Since the nine-episode show commenced at the beginning of July, the society has received numerous enquiries from people who are interested in taking up the sport. The programme has also prompted an increase in ticket sales for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and the London Horse Show.

Riding stables across the country have been taking copious call from want-to-be show jumpers. But according to Sarah Chittenden of Wimbledon Riding Stables, new riders might be disillusioned by the reality of learning to ride. “We have had lots of enquiries but everyone wants to jump,” she told HHO. “I think the show was brilliant because it raised the profile of show jumping but by putting beginners on top class show jumpers it has given the impression that anyone can do it. We have had to explain to people that the celebrities had intensive lessons for X number of hours a day on horses that could do it in their sleep.”

The BBC programme not only provoked an interest in learning to jump, but also in watching professional show jumping competitions. The London Horse Show’s (Olympia) website has received more visitors over the past weeks and ticket sales for the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead are up on last year. “There has been a substantial increase in ticket sales during and after Only Fools On Horses,” a spokesperson for Hickstead, “And ticket sales are up compared to a corresponding time last year. The programme has brought show jumping in front of people who might not usually have experienced it.”

Ms Chittenden hopes the heightened interest in watching the sport might encourage more television coverage. “Hickstead used to be broadcast in its entirety and now we are lucky to get an hour,” she said.

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