Germany’s leading show jumper, Marcus Ehning, has been forced to withdraw from the Olympic Games due to an injury to his ride, For Pleasure.

The combination, who proved the lynch pin in Germany’s gold medal in Sydney, and have scored a long series of wins since then, were widely considered gold medal favourites in this year’s individual competition, but the Hanoverian stallion has damaged a ligament, putting pay to their Olympic hopes.

And at 18 years old, For Pleasure is highly unlikely to get another shot at a medal, although Ehning will undoubtedly live to fight another Olympic battle.

Ehning will be replaced by Marco Kutscher with Montender. The combination face their Olympic debut, but have shown some impressive form this season.

Meanwhile, Britain’s individual medal chances suffered a blow at the weekend when Nick Skelton and Arko’s immaculate record was brought to an abrupt halt with a double refusal in the Samsung Grand Prix.

The combination had seemed on flying form in the Nations Cup on Friday, producing one of only three double clears to hoist Britain into third place, and second overall.

But by Sunday, the stallion, apparently, had had enough, digging in his heels at the fifth. Not just once, but twice. Although the conditions were far from perfect – heavy rain had caused slipperiness– the uncharacteristic behaviour left all concerned in shock.

While Skelton maintained that Arko would be all right, the butterflies must be well and truly flitting with Athens less than two weeks away.