The French eventing team has suffered a heavy blow after Jean Teulere’s 2002 World Equestrian Games winning mount, Espoir de la Mare, aggravated an old ligament injury.

French Chef d’Equipe Thierry Touzaint confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that the 16-year-old gelding has been withdrawn from the 2008 Olympic Games on veterinary advice.

Espoir de la Mare aggravated the old injury some weeks ago but had made a good recovery and travelled to Hong Kong.

However the leg flared up again after a gallop last weekend.

Mr Touzaint insisted however that the injury is not career-threatening and that the horse should be back in action with his 54-year-old rider within the foreseeable future.

Teulere and the gelding claimed the individual gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain in 2002, team gold and individual fourth at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and fourth at last summer’s FEI European Eventing Championships at Pratoni in Italy.

The remaining French horses and riders — Eric Vigeanel and Coronado Prior, Nicolas Touzaint with Galan de Sauvagere, Jean Renaud Adde with Haston D’Elpegere and Didier Dhennin with Ismene du Temple — and the other 23 nations, face a vet inspection tomorrow at 4pm local time or 9am BST.

Stay in touch with all the Olympic news on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s full report from the Olympic eventing in Hong Kong — on sale Friday 15 August.