International eventer Piggy French (pictured left) and her horse DHI Topper W will not compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games due to injury.
DHI Topper W has incurred and injury, meaning he will not be fit to compete in the equestrian eventing competitions at the Olympics.
Piggy French said: “What can I say, I am 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.”
The British Olympic Association (BOA) has confirmed that Nicola Wilson (35) from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, riding Opposition Buzz owned by Miss Rosemary Search has been selected to replace Piggy and DHI Topper W.
Nicola Wilson said: “It’s 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.”
Will Connell, Equestrian Team Leader, said: “Piggy will be completely devastated and all of us feel so very sorry for her, her support team and her owners. Piggy is a truly 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 joins the Team. Nicola and Opposition Buzz have been the pathfinders for the Team at the last three Championships and have an enviable Championship record.”
As it stands, the Team GB Equestrian Eventing team is as follows:
Kristina Cook and Miners Frolic
William Fox-Pitt and Lionheart
Nicola Wilson and Opposition Buzz
Mary King and Imperial Cavalier
Zara Phillips and High Kingdom
The London 2012 Olympic eventing competition begins on Saturday 28 July 2012 with two days of dressage, followed by cross country on Monday 30 July 2012. The team and individual jumping competitions will take place on Tuesday 31 July 2012.
Photo by Kit Houghton