British eventer Piggy French’s dreams have been shattered after after her horse DHI Topper W was ruled off the country’s Olympic team following an injury.
The combination was third in one of the CIC** classes at Barbury at the weekend. Officials have not revealed when the injury occurred, but it is believed to have occurred on the cross-country. French’s other Olympic hope, Jakata, was also injured at the end of last month.
French’s place on the British team will be taken by Nicola Wilson riding Opposition Buzz, who is owned by Miss Rosemary Search.
French said after the announcement that she was “devastated; my dreams are shattered but most of all I feel so sorry for my support team that have been such a vital part of my success and also for my family and joint owners, the Underwoods. I wish the Team all the best for the Games and look forward to being back on the Team in the future.”
Wilson, 35, from Northallerton in North Yorkshire, said the news was “horrific and fabulous at the same time”.
“I just don’t know what to say; I’m devastated for Piggy and wouldn’t wish this on anybody, she’s become a very close friend and I feel for her so much.
“What an emotional rollercoaster, obviously I’m so excited for Rosemary, myself and my support team but so saddened at the same time for it to be at the expense of such a good friend. To be thinking about London now is amazing though – having very much told myself it wouldn’t happen. We’ll definitely be ready.”
Equestrian Team Leader Will Connell said French was an outstanding athlete, a wonderful team member and one of life’s good human beings. “However, horses have a habit of giving great highs but also terrible lows.
“We aim to always select as early as possible (many nations have not yet selected) and one of the knock-on effects of this is that there is a longer period between selection and the Championships and thus a longer period of time in which horses can encounter a problem: The horses have to be fit, especially for the terrain we will encounter at Greenwich and they cannot be wrapped in cotton wool.
“Whilst we feel for Piggy we must look forward and we now welcome Nicola Wilson and Opposition Buzz. What a wonderful combination to join the team; Nicola and Opposition Buzz have been the pathfinders for the team at the last three Championships and have an enviable Championship record.”
Eventing Performance Manager Yogi Breisner said it was a shame not to be able to have French on the team. “I am sure a rider of Piggy’s talent, and with the backing she has, she will be back on future teams. It is great to have a reserve of the calibre of Nicola Wilson and Opposition Buzz to bring on to the Team, and preparations will continue as planned.”
The eventing competition starts on Saturday, 28 July with two days of dressage, followed by cross country (Monday 30 July) before the team and individual jumping competitions on Tuesday 31 July. All five athletes compete as a team and an individual, but only the three best scores will count towards the team result.
All the equestrian events are competed at Greenwich Park.
Horse and Rider detailed information
|Athlete||Horse name||Also known as||Owner/s||Age of horse||Colour||Sex||Height||Sire|
|Kristina Cook||Miners Frolic*||Henry||Mrs Sarah Pelham, Mr Nicholas & Mrs Valda Embiricos||14||Dark Bay||Gelding||17hh||Miners Lamp|
|William Fox-Pitt||Lionheart||Lion||Mr Jeremy & Mrs Judith Skinner||10||Bay||Gelding||16.3hh||Lancer III|
|Nicola Wilson||Opposition Buzz*||Dodi||Miss Rosemary Search||15||Black||Gelding||16.1hh||Fleetwater Opposition|
|Mary King||Imperial Cavalier||Archie||Mrs Janette Chinn and Mr Edwin & Mrs Sue Davies||15||Bay||Gelding||16.2hh||Cavalier Royale|
|Zara Phillips||High Kingdom||Trev||Gleadhill House Stud Ltd||11||Bay||Gelding||16.1hh||Master Imp|
*Denotes British Bred horse