CARL Hester and Lecantos are off the British team for the European dressage championships in Turin (29 August – 2 September).

Carl told H&H: “The horse has knocked his off fore, presumably in the field but possibly in the stable, and bruised his tendon. It’s a very minimal injury, but we can’t risk taking him to Turin as he needs time for the bruising to heal. In two weeks time he’ll probably be fine.”

Team chef d’equipe David Trott said: “It’s a real blow because Carl is such a good person to have on the team.”

Travelling reserve Anna Ross-Davies will take Carl’s place riding Donald McTaggart’s Liebling.

David added: “I have every faith that Anna will be able to do as good a job and get as high a score as Carl would have done.”

The pair scored 69.8% at grand prix in Germany today (17 August) in an encouraging dress rehearsal for Turin, where they will join team-mates Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistral Hojris), Emma Hindle (Lancet) and Fiona Bigwood (Mr G De Lully).

Carl will still travel to the Europeans, as Spencer Wilton will now step up to be travelling reserve riding Carl and Ann Corey’s Dolendo.

Britain is fighting for three remaining places up for grabs at the Europeans to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games (with The Netherlands and Germany already qualified). They face tough opposition from Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland.

Denmark have also been dealt a blow as not only is Andreas Helgstrand not able to take his World Games ride, Blue Hors Matine, but his second horse, Blue Hors Don Schufro, is also out of action. He will ride the inexperienced eight-year-old Gredstedsgaards Casmir to head a young Danish team.

Carl joked: “It’s the curse of the Horse & Hound cover striking again. Anybody who wants to be on that cover should wait until they’ve won the championship.”