Olympic Eventing: Piggy French Withdraws

The British equestrian team reports that an injury to Topper requires Piggy French to withdraw from the eventing team; Nicola Wilson will replace her
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The British equestrian team reports that an injury to Topper requires Piggy French to withdraw from the eventing team; Nicola Wilson will replace her

July 2, 2012

Nicola Wilson (foreground) and Piggy French (background) warming up their horses at a recent horse trials in England. Photo courtesy of Lauren Bezant.

Nicola Wilson (foreground) and Piggy French (background) warming up their horses at a recent horse trials in England. Photo courtesy of Lauren Bezant.

The equestrian world was stunned to learn today that British eventer Piggy French has withdrawn from the Team GB eventing squad. According to an announcement from the team, her horse DHI Topper W has incurred an injury and will not?be fit to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the equestrian (eventing) competitions.

Following replacement protocol, the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed that Nicola Wilson and Opposition Buzz have been selected to replace Piggy and DHI Topper W. Opposition Buzz is owned by Rosemary Search; Wilson is based in Yorkshire, England.

The announcement supplied a statement from Nicola, which reads:??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.? French and Topper were the winners of the "Test Event" held at Greenwich Park last July and were a strong favorite for a strong performance again. ?What can I say, I am devastated; my dreams are shattered," Piggy told Team GB. "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.? Piggy had two top horses named to the team and chose Topper as her mount. She finished third in a two-star outing at Barbury Castle this weekend as part of the team preparation.

"The horses have to be fit, especially for the terrain we will encounter at Greenwich and they cannot be wrapped in cotton wool"--Will Connell

Wilson also competed her horse at Barbury, but in the 3* competition, where she finished seventh--on her dressage score. This means she had no cross-country or show jumping penalties or time faults. Wilson and Opposition Buzz were the first horse and rider, or "pathfinders", at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Will Connell, Equestrian Team Leader commented:??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.?

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Fran Jurga is a freelance writer and editor from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Her award-winning blogs include?The Jurga Report for EQUUS Magazine?and?War Horse News?on the 2011 Steven Spielberg film. Fran is the founder of?Hoofcare and Lameness Journal?and writes a specialist?Hoof Blog.? Fran wrote the?WorldRides blog for the Hong Kong equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics?and the Discover WEG blog for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.You can?follow Fran on Facebook,?Pinterest?and?Twitter?for more news about the horse world. To make sure you don't miss any news,??follow or subscribe to this blog?s headline news stream.