This year’s Badminton winner, Supreme Rock, will not compete in the autumn due to a “minor setback” in his preparations. This is a joint decision taken by the horse’s rider, Pippa Funnell, and his owners, Emma Pitt and Di Lewthwaite.

Supreme Rock is one of Britain’s top event horses; he won Badminton in 2002 and 2003, and has accumulated a number of other wins over the past few years, including Thirlestane Castle CIC in 2001. He was being prepared for Burghley in September.

However, bearing in mind the 15-year-old gelding’s potential suitability as an Olympic horse for Athens 2004, it was deemed appropriate not to take any risks.

“Rocky owes us nothing,” says Pippa Funnell, “Next year is very important to us all and the Olympics take precedence”.

Olympic team silver medallist Pippa admits: “This is a huge blow and the timing is obviously unfortunate.”

At this stage, Pippa has not finalised her alternative horses for Burghley, but Supreme Rock’s owners are hoping he will be competing again next spring.