Some of Eventing’s biggest stars are set to miss The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this week, after withdrawing at the last minute.
Andrew Nicholson has withdrawn his sole ride Nereo whilst Pippa Funnell has withdrawn both of her horses – Billy Beware and Second Supreme.
Andrew is recovering from a serious neck injury sustained at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park last August, and despite good results so far this season, he feels he is not quite ready for the test that running competitively at CCI4* level demands.
He said: “I have reluctantly decided to withdraw Nereo from Badminton – through no fault of his own. I have doubts over my own fitness and ability to do him full justice at this point. I successfully rode four horses in the advanced at Withington on Sunday, all of whom won prizes, but was aware I felt fatigued by the end of the seven-minute cross-country course. It would therefore not be sensible to attempt an 11 1/2-minute course at Badminton. I have every confidence my strength and fitness will continue to improve and, with the full support of Nereo’s owner Libby Sellar, we now plan to target Nereo towards significant events such as those in the exciting new Event Rider Masters series.”
Following a fall at Withington on Sunday, Pippa underwent tests in hospital. Although this have returned clear, she made the difficult decision to withdraw in order to give herself more time to recover.
The three-time Badminton winner said: “It’s devastating not only for myself but also for the owners, Jonathan and Jane Clarke and Marek Sebestak, my groom Frankie and the hard working team at home not to be able to compete at Badminton this year as I feel both my horses are in great form and the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials is one of the greatest events in the world. I very much hope to back competing again shortly.”
The event is also missing its defending champion William Fox-Pitt after he withdrew Parklane Hawk. However, Michael Jung is on his way to Badminton in a bid to secure the third and final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam following his success at the Rolex Kentuky Three Day Event last week.