The countdown to Adelaide this weekend (14-17 November) — the final 4-star horse trials of the year — has been dramatic, with broken limbs and a heart attack affecting some of the major players.

Course-designer Wayne Copping was taken to hospital a week ago after suffering a heart attack. He has since undergone heart bypass surgery and is intent on making it to the event.

British Eventing’s chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith stepped into the breach to do some last-minute fine-tuning with the course-builders. Mike was himself Adelaide’s course-designer for several years and is the current designer at Sydney CCI3*.

Meanwhile, dual Adelaide winner Wendy Schaeffer will be unable to bid for a popular third victory after breaking her leg in 2 places in a training fall. Although she won Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996 just 9 weeks after breaking a leg, she will not line up this time.

And fellow Australian Megan Jones — who was on the team for London 2012 until lameness sidelined her ride Kirby Park Allofasudden — has withdrawn her horse again as he is not 100%.

Another Aussie who had been due to compete — Will Enzinger — also had his challenge thwarted when he broke his leg last week.

However, the home crowd will be able to cheer another of their riders on as the UK-based Christopher Burton — who didn’t have any horses entered — has picked up Will’s ride on TS Jamaimo, a 4-star debutant. Chris won Adelaide 5 years ago on Newsprint.

26 horses are listed — nearly double last year’s field. Riders include Sydney 2000 Olympic team gold medallist Stuart Tinney and Beijing silver medallists Sonja Johnson and Shane Rose — who will be bidding to catch the selectors’ eyes ahead of the World Equestrian Games next year.