MICHAEL Whitaker and Portofino will not represent Britain in the show jumping competition at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

Travelling reserve rider Nick Skelton will now get to compete at his 5th Olympics following the last-minute withdrawal of Portofino.

The 14-year-old mare had been suffering from intermittent lameness over the last few days, though she has also been ridden while in Hong Kong.

The decision to remove her from the team was made when she went lame after jumping a couple of fences in the main arena. H&H understands that she is being poulticed. It has also been reported that she has a skin rash.

Portofino is a stalwart of 4 British teams and finished 3rd at the 2007 World Cup final.

A team spokesman said: “The team vet, Rob Cnockaert, has been trying to get to the root of the problem, but in the end we’ve run out of time. With the trot-up tomorrow, we had to make a decision.”

Nick will ride Lisa Hales’ grey stallion Russel. Russel was a member of the British team at the 2002 WEG. He should be fresh for action, having not jumped competitively for a while due to pricking his foot back in June.

Nick’s top ride Arko was ruled out from Olympic selection some time ago but who helped clinch Britain’s nations cup victory in Dublin last weekend.

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