“I have reluctantly decided to withdraw Nereo from Badminton — through no fault of his own,” said Andrew. “I have doubts over my own fitness and ability to do him full justice at this point.
“I successfully rode four horses in the advanced at Withington on Sunday, all of whom won prizes, but was aware I felt fatigued by the end of the seven-minute cross-country course. It would therefore not be sensible to attempt an 11½-minute course at Badminton.
“I have every confidence my strength and fitness will continue to improve and, with the full support of Nereo’s owner Libby Sellar, we now plan to target Nereo towards significant events such as those in the exciting new Event Rider Masters series.”
The New Zealander holds the record for Badminton completions (35), but has never won and many hoped this would be his year. It would have been a fairytale result after the serious neck injury Andrew sustained at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park last August.
Nereo, a 16-year-old bred by Ramon Beca, is one of the most experienced event horses in the world and would have been very much in contention.
Andrew and the chestnut were individual and team bronze medallists at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, team bronze medallists at the London 2012 Olympics and third at Badminton in 2013. They have finished in the top 10 at four-star eight times and won Pau CCI4* in 2012.
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Several top contenders for the title have fallen by the wayside over the past week.
Pippa Funnell has also announced today that she is withdrawing Billy Beware and Second Supreme from Badminton after a fall at Withington on Sunday.
And Germany’s Ingrid Klimke has decided not to run Horseware Hale Bob because SAP Escada FRH is out for the year with an injury, so now that he is her number one choice for the Olympics, she wants to focus on preparing “Bobby” for Rio.
Her compatriot Michael Jung will be bidding to complete the Rolex Grand Slam at Badminton this week — winning a four-star is never an easy task, but the recent withdrawals will certainly remove some major obstacles from his way.