FEI World Cup champion Debbie McDonald will not be defending her title at the 2004 FEI World Cup final in Dusseldorf later this week (1-4 April). The American rider has been forced to withdraw from the competition due to a slight injury to her horse, Brentina.

Debbie was ready to give Europe’s top riders a run for their money in the final. She demonstrated Brentina’s current good form at CDI Dortmund two weeks ago, when they won the grand prix and grand prix special.

Unfortunately, Brentina developed a slightly swollen leg after the competition and a mild tendon strain was diagnosed. Although the injury is not believed to be serious, rest has been prescribed to allow the tendon time to heal.

Debbie McDonald says: “We consulted with two vets who agreed that for Brentina to compete on full power could do far worse damage in the long run. The World Cup final is not a place to go half measures, so in the horse’s best interests we could not risk it.

“We came all this way to defend the title, we were ready for it, so it is just awful, especially as a week or two later it may have been OK.”

Brentina is expected to make a full recovery in time for the American Olympic Selection Trials in June, making it highly likely that Debbie will represent the United States at the Athens Olympics in August.