Olympic rider Mary King, winner of last year’s Badminton, is at home recovering after an operation last Saturday to fuse two vertebrae together.

The operation was the eventual outcome of a fall three weeks ago while schooling a young horse at home. At the time X-rays revealed a fracture of the C5 vertebrae in the neck.

Despite three weeks of rest the bone showed little sign of healing and so the decision to operate was taken.

Mary, a mother of two young children, last had a serious injury in 1999 when she broke a wrist and ankle after a fall from King William at Saumur.

“It sounds very serious to say I have broken my neck, but the doctors are confident of a full recovery,” said Mary. “I am disappointed that this has happened just as we had started eventing again but we’ve waited two months and another eight weeks won’t be too bad.”

Mary, who was disappointed not to be able to defend her title at Badminton withStar Appeal, is hoping for a four-star swan-song for the 17-year-old at Burghley instead.

Mary joins Tina Gifford on the sidelines. The Sussex based former European gold medallist has her leg in plaster as a result of a torn cruciate ligament.