Nick Skelton, Michael Whitaker and William Funnell have pulled out of the final, individual, round at the European Show Jumping Championships at San Patrignano.

Tests on Arko, who only travelled back from Calgary less than a week before the Championships, and Portofino had revealed low blood counts. Both horses are needed for the forthcoming Aga Khan Nations Cup in Dublin in a fortnight’s time, while William Funnell is hoping to jump Cortaflex Mondriaan in the King George Vl Cup at Hickstead next weekend.

BEF performance director, Will Connell told Horse & Hound: “[As] none of the horses were in contention for an individual placing, it was felt, following a discussion between the riders and the team manager, that there was little to be gained by jumping in the final two rounds of the individual competition.

“While I can understand that viewers may have been disappointed not to see British horses jumping [in the individual competition], I am sure that all would understand that the welfare and long-term prospects for the horse were the primary concern. 

“Britain does not have a huge depth of horses capable of competing at the very highest levels.  It is therefore vital that the horses we do have our protected to ensure they are available in the future.  There are still four legs of the Samsung Super League left and we will all be hoping Britain does well.”

Two of the Swedish horses, Butterfly Flip and MacKinley, who had also qualified for the individual final, are suffering from similar problems.

Britain’s best result at San Patrignano was scored by John Whitaker, originally the team reserve. He finished fourth with a double clear in Saturday night’s grand prix on Exploit du Rouland.

The grand prix was won by Germany’s Otto Becker on his Olympic horse Dobel’s Cento, ahead of compatriot Ludger Beerbaum and Italian Giannin Govoni.