The owners of Irish showjumper Michael Duffy’s World Equestrian Games ride have withdrawn their horse from the championships due to the severe weather forecast.

The Irishman received a late call-up to be the squad’s “fifth man” (travelling reserve) aboard the 12-year-old stallion EFS Top Contender on 31 August.

In a post on the horse’s Facebook page, Owners Graham and Ben Dalton said they are “not prepared to send our horse halfway across the world into a potentially catastrophic hurricane”.

“It is with great sadness that we have to let you know that our horse Forest — EFS Top Contender — will not be attending the World Equestrian Games,” they said.

This decision has not been taken lightly and we would firstly like to apologise to the Irish team and to Michael, Forest’s rider, for our decision.

“As you are undoubtably aware, there is a category 4 hurricane about to hit North and South Carolina.

“We appreciate that forecasters are not entirely sure where hurricane Florence may hit but for us, Forest’s safety is of absolute priority.

“This does not mean that we are in any way doubting any other owners/team manager/rider’s decision on whether or not to send their horses.”

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The statement added that the Daltons had discussed the possibility of Forest’s being caught up in Hurricane Florence, any evacuation procedures or bad weather, while in the air or on the ground in the US.

“However slim the chances of any of these things happening are, we have decided that we are not prepared to send our horse halfway across the world in to a potentially catastrophic hurricane that may or may not hit the area that he will be staying,” they added.

“Again, we appreciate that the organisers of WEG are doing all they can to update everybody on the situation and have evacuation procedures in place should they be needed, we just don’t feel that any show/championship or anything is worth even the slightest risk to our beloved horse.

“Over 1 million homes have been evacuated from North Carolina and without any shadow of a doubt Hurricane Florence will prove devastating to some parts of North Carolina and with hurricanes being so unpredictable in their course we hope that others will understand our decision to not fly our horse out there without absolute guarantee of the situation.

“Once again, we would like to thank the whole Irish team for inviting Forest to attend the games and whole heartedly apologise for the inconvenience that this has caused.

“We wish all riders and horses well at the games and pray that we have been over cautious in our decision.”

All four of the Irish team horses have arrived safely in the States and the first round of the showjumping competition will start on Wednesday (19 September).

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