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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hop to it: Rabbit showjumping enjoys rise in popularity as a spectator sport

By Gareth Finighan

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Jump to it: A competitor leads her rabbit across the course as spectators look on

Great steeplechase events - in which the sharp intelligence of man and the raw power of beast unite in a sublime spectacle of nerve, aggression and high-speed - have dotted the sporting calendar for centuries.

The Grand National springs to mind as the yearly highlight of the 'sport of kings' in which thoroughbred steeds and their brave jockeys triumph - or fail - over gruelling courses and high-fenced adversity.

And now steeplechase enthusiasts can add another event to the annuals of great sporting occasions.

Run rabbit, run: The rabbits faced a number of different-sized hurdles along the route

Winner's enclosure: Lada Sipova-Krecova of the Czech Republic pets her rabbit after winning the competition

Furry friend: A girl kisses her rabbit after an obstacle course during the rabbit-hopping championships

For organisers in Switzerland have held the first ever European Kanin Hop Championships - in which dozens of rabbits compete to be first across the finish line.

The showjumping bunnies, representing a number of countries across Europe, hopped their way around a course consisting of several small jumps in the town of Wollerau, just south of Zurich.

More than 50 rabbits took part in the event, which attracted hundreds of spectators.

In recent years the sport has spread far from its Scandinavian homeland and clubs have now sprung up in several other European countries, the U.S., Canada and even Japan.

Bushy tailed: Two rabbits clear different hurdles as they race against more than 50 competitors

Happy bunny: One athlete in training before the championships in Switzerland

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail: Another rabbit is put through its paces before Lada Sipova-Krecova and her pet (right) eventually win the day

The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping was established in 1995.

The current rabbit jumping record holders are both Danish.

Yabo holds the Long Jump record with a leap of 10ft, while a rabbit by the name of Tosen completed a High Jump of 3.3ft in 1997.



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