Piggy French has been forced to drop out of the Olympic eventing team after her horse; DHI Topper W suffered an injury at the weekend.
Details of the injury have not yet been released, and though it has been described as only “minor”, French’s website announces that Topper “will not be fit for London”. French was initially selected with the choice of two rides, but in a cruel twist her other horse Jakata also suffered an injury just two weeks ago. It is a crushing setback for French, who is ranked 12th in the world.
French said on her website: “‘I am broken hearted; 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 for my family and joint owners, the Underwoods.”
Nicola Wilson and her horse Opposition Buzz have been announced as the replacement, being the first reserve for the five-strong team. Many were surprised the pair had not made the cut originally, as they are an established international combination; they were members of Britain’s 2009 European gold medal-winning team and the quartet that won World Equestrian Games gold in Kentucky in 2010.
Though devastated, French added that Wilson is a “great friend”, and that “I wish her every success with Opposition Buzz. I hope that Team GB have a fantastic Games and do our country proud.”
Commenting on her surprise Olympic debut, 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.”
Wilson added; “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.”
Team GB Equestrian Team Leader Will Connell expressed his sympathy for French; whilst highlighting that Nicola is great replacement. “Horseshave a habit of giving great highs but also terrible lows.” Connell went on; “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.”