The Helgstrand-sponsored grand prix freestyle competition at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, has been cancelled.

“Following yesterday’s announcement of the intention to hold the Helgstrand dressage freestyle competition on Monday morning due to extreme rainfall forecast for Sunday’s original time slot of 8.30am, further discussions have been taking place to review the options available to reschedule,” read a statement.

“Despite the best efforts of the whole Tryon 2018 team and the officials, who have been working on plans for rescheduling since yesterday evening, including meetings with the chefs de mission and chefs d’equipe, the logistics of putting all necessary elements into place in time have proved insurmountable. As a result, and very regrettably, the dressage freestyle will now be cancelled.

Britain’s Carl Hester, who helped secure team bronze on Thursday (pictured above), told H&H: “It’s really sad, but with increasing weather problems it has to be horses first and it’s the right decision.”

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The president of the Tryon 2018 organising committee, Michael Stone, added: “This was not an easy decision, but we have explored every option, including trying to reschedule the horse departures, and even looking at moving the competition into the indoor with a change of footing, but the logistics of making all this happen are just not possible.

“We know this is desperately disappointing for the 15 athletes who had qualified their horses for the Freestyle, and of course for all the spectators who had bought tickets, but the weather has simply left us with no choice. Horse welfare has to be the top priority and flying the horses out on the same day as competition doesn’t work, so sadly the decision to cancel the freestyle had to be taken.”

“Although we are devastated that this decision has had to be taken, we’ve had two absolutely world-class competitions here at Tryon, including yesterday’s grand prix special.”

The decision does not affect the Olympic qualification process, as this was completed on Thursday. The teams that have earned their ticket to Tokyo 2020 are Germany, USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Netherlands and Spain.

A separate notification will be sent to ticket holders.

Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news on horseandhound.co.uk and read the full reports on the team and individual dressage competitions, plus the eventing, in the 20 September issue.