Rider to miss Olympics after both horses injured

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EVENTING star Piggy French has seen her Olympic dream cruelly destroyed after injury to both of her Bury St Edmunds-owned horses.

The 31-year-old former European individual silver medallist, will miss London 2012 after her Olympic Test Event-winning horse DHI Topper W, co-owned by Bury-based Michael Underwood, suffered an injury at the Barbury International event in Wiltshire last week.

It was a double blow for French, with her other top horse and second choice for London 2012, Jakata, also owned by Underwood, also out injured.

French’s preparations appeared on track as she gave Trooper a final competitive run before this summer’s Games in Whiltshire, finishing third in a Concourse International Combine (CIC) two-star class, but a statement on the current world number 12 star’s website confirmed the horse had suffered a ‘minor injury’.

The statement read: “We are de-vastated to announce that Piggy will be unable to fulfil her long-held dream of competing at the London 2012 Olympics.

“DHI Topper W has sustained a minor injury, and while he will be back to fight another day, he will not be fit for London. In a cruel twist of fate, Piggy’s other Olympic hope Jakata also suffered an injury towards the end of last month.”

French had spoken of her excitement at being selected, but has now had to come to terms with having her dream that was ‘five years in the making’ ended.

Despite her obvious disappointment, French wished her replacement Nicola Wilson success in London.

“I am broken-hearted,” she said. “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.

“My great friend Nicola Wilson is to take my place, and I wish her every success with Opposition Buzz.

“I hope that Team GB have a fantastic Games and do our country proud.

“I will be rooting for them every step of the way, and I look forward to joining them on the team again in the near future.”

Reflecting on the news, co-owner Underwood spoke of his disappoint-ment for the French.

“Obviously it is very disappointing news and we are all devastated for her,” he added. “Her dream of going to the Olympics has been shattered and that is devastating to see.”