Andrew Nicholson has withdrawn Avebury from the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (7-11 May) after the horse suffered a small injury earlier this season.

The 15-year-old gelding is “not as fit as he could be” having missed two weeks work, Andrew told H&H today (Thursday 16 April).

“After his run at Aldon [in March] he had a small cut on the outside of a hind pastern — not somewhere you’d hit it on a jump — and it was very, very painful for him when we washed it,” Andrew said.

“It then swelled up more than a small cut should do, so we had it x-rayed and found there was a very small fragment chipped off the bone — he’d obviously trodden on something, I don’t know what.”

Andrew added that as Avebury had “missed a bit of work”, he decided to “pull the plug” on competing at Badminton.

“We thought we’d leave it so that he can have a proper campaign later in the season,” he added. “He’s walking fine and is happy in himself, but he’s missed two weeks work. He doesn’t owe anyone anything so we thought it’s best not to push him.

“We’ll start him off with a run somewhere a month or so before Barbury Castle and then go there, Gatcombe and Burghley.”

Rosemary Barlow’s grey helped Andrew into the record books by winning Burghley in September, becoming the first rider to win the event three times consecutively on the same horse.

The pair also scored a Barbury Castle hat-trick last year, taking the CIC3* title for the third year running.

Andrew still has two horses entered in the Gloucestershire event next month. Fifteen-year-old gelding Nereo — who has won on two out of three outings this season — and 13-year-old Calico Joe, who will be contesting his first Badminton. The gelding was out of action last year, but finished third at Rolex Kentucky and seventh Burghley in 2013.

“They are both going well,” he added.

Last year’s winners Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh will be returning to the event to defend their title.

Other past winners entered include Jock Paget (Clifton Promise), Pippa Funnell (Redesigned and Second Supreme), Andrew Hoy (Rutherglen and Lanfranco), Mark Todd (Leonidas II and Oloa), Paul Tapner (Kilronan and Indian Mill), Oliver Townend (2014 runner-up Armada) and William Fox-Pitt (Parklane Hawk and Chilli Morning). Mary King is on the waitlist.