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article imageBunnies taking part in UK's first 'Rabbit Grand National'

By Lynn Curwin     Jan 29, 2011 in Lifestyle
Harrogate - British rabbits are up against competitors from Sweden as the UK's first Rabbit Grand National is held in Harrogate this weekend.
The timed jumping event is part of the annual Burgess Premier Small Animal Show, which is held at the Yorkshire Event Centre.
"Rabbits are much more intelligent than people give them credit for," Maureen Hoyle, of Huddersfield, told BBC News. "Rabbits will naturally jump over any object in its way.
"I get quite a few jokes about me and rabbit jumping... that's the general of the public, they can't believe that rabbits enjoy jumping."
She has trained her Himalayan miniature lop Smudge for the event.
Another rabbit taking part is Harley, who is trained by his 14-year-old owner Demi Smith.
"It was quite easy to get Harley to do the jumps,” she told the Yorkshire Evening Post. "He would do anything for food.
"I used to make him go over the jumps with dandelion leaves but now he will go over by himself so I don't need to use food anymore.
"Some of my friends think it is a bit odd but they know I have rabbits so they are used to it now.”
Thirteen rabbits were registered for the event, which has been popular in Scandinavia for several years.
Naomi Chatterley, marketing manager at Burgess Pet Care, was quoted on the Burgess Premier Small Animal Show website as saying: "We have been working hard to make sure the conditions at the event are a home from home for the stars of the show. Their demands have been quite modest, with just one or two special requirements such as deluxe double-sized pens."
About 3,000 cavies, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rabbits and rats take part in the show, which has been held since 1921.
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