The Finnish eventer, Piia Pantsu, has been forced to withdraw from the Olympics due to an injury to her ride, Karuso.

The combination were hotly tipped for individual gold, following some hugely successful recent outings, including first at Fontainebleau earlier this year, second at Badminton last year, and bronze at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez in 2002.

The horse is reported to have sustained an injury during transport, although it is not entirely clear at what stage the accident happened.

“All we know is that the horse was injured as it was being loaded onto a lorry in Finland”, said an FEI spokesperson.

The 11-year-old gelding was due to have arrived by plane in Athens on Wednesday.

The Olympic qualification criteria mean that as Pantsu is not able to compete, the Romanian rider Viorel Bubau earns an Olympic ticket. The 43-year-old will be competing Carnival, the stallion which he partnered at last year’s European Championships in Punchestown.