William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo had seemingly produced a foot perfect, speedy round cross country yesterday morning, leaving the combination in fifth place and the British team in bronze medal position going into the final jumping phase of the Olympic three day event this evening.

But both William’s and British hopes suffered a devastating blow late yesterday evening with the news that the elegant Tamarillo fractured a stifle in three places at some stage during yesterday’s cross-country. The dashing duo was forced to withdraw, bringing William’s Olympic campaign to a disappointing end, and diminishing Britain’s medal chances.

The part-Arab gelding became a little lame behind and stiffened up yesterday afternoon, gradually getting worse. He was eventually x-rayed and small chips were discovered in his patella joint.

William had been in fifth place, less than ten points behind the leader, Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint with Galan de Sauvagere, and with less than one show jump between Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo (35.6) in silver medal position, and William (38.6), in fifth, the British combination were a serious medal prospect.

Mary King’s score of 48 now comes into play, but the extra ten penalties push Britain down into fourth place, below the USA.

Britain has suffered more than their fair share of bad luck in the Athens games. Late last week Sarah Cutteridge was forced to withdraw with The Wexford Lady because of a minor injury which would, reportedly, have prevented them from completing the three phases.

However, in spite of the disasters of yesterday’s cross country – Pippa Funnell and Primmore’s Pride accrued enough time penalties to drop them six places and leave them more than twelve penalties behind the leader – Britain is just 5.4 penalties behind the USA, and likely to pounce on the slightest medal opportunity.

The injury to Tamarillo is not considered to be life threatening, although it is serious, and could potentially bring the horse’s four-star career to an end. David Sinclair MRCVS of Bell Equine, explains. “It depends on where the fracture lines lie. Some fractures could be damning for the career of a horse like that, while others may have little effect and allow him to return to top form.”

  • Meanwhile, all the horses who were presented at this morning’s final inspection passed, although Australia’s Olivia Bunn, who had produced brilliant performances both in the dressage and cross country phases to be lying in 15th with GV Top of the Line, withdrew before the final inspection. Australia remains in fifth place, 0.8 of a penalty behind Great Britain.
  • Utter devastation for the Belgian rider Joris Vanspringel today. His ride, Over and Over was put down this morning after an operation for a fractured stifle last night. The horse injured himself when he landed awkwardly over the middle part of the Hollow.
  • Click here to visit HHO’s Olympic Games microsite for all the latest news and reports from Athens.