A SHOW jumping event at Chester Racecourse has been hit by controversy after saucy pictures were released to promote what will be a curtain- raiser for the British Olympic squad.
Roodee bosses were not amused by a ‘rude’ photo shoot arranged by the British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) with scantily- clad competitors Laura Renwick, 33, and Georgie Strutton, 21, minus their jodhpurs.
The idea was to cast off show jumping’s stuffy image ahead of next week’s British Masters Invitational event which will feature a number of innovations in a bid to make the sport more appealing.
But following considerable publicity in the national Press, sponsor Barclays Wealth – which offers private banking to wealthy clients – has asked for its name to be removed from all publicity material.
Racecourse chief executive Richard Thomas said of Barclays’ decision: “There were a few things we didn’t agree on and we were not going to agree in time.
“I don’t think that (the pictures) helped but I don’t think that’s the only reason.”
Mr Thomas added: “Those photos were perhaps not appropriate to go out but since then it has generated an enormous amount of publicity.”
Mr Thomas said it was “never a secret” the event was being “sexed up” and the idea of modernising the image of show jumping was being pioneered by Chester. He hoped up to 20,000 spectators would turn out in years to come.
The racecourse had commissioned its own pictures to promote the event featuring British show jumping rider Ellen Whitaker but these are relatively tame compared with those released by the BSJA.
The aim is to bring more ‘razzmatazz’ to the Sky-televised event, next Thursday and Friday, which will feature Olympic hopeful Tim Stockdale, cheerleaders, music and betting.
Traditional jackets will be swapped for polo shirts with names on the back, in order to make the sport more betting friendly.
Tickets are priced from £10 and are available from: 01244 304610 or visit: www.chester-races.com