Equestrianism: Double injury blow to Britain

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TWO OF Britain's leading three-day event horses, Word Perfect II and Cosmopolitan II, have sustained minor injuries and will not be able to compete in the World Equestrian Games, to be held in Italy in October. Both had been considered automatic choices for the team which defends the world title won in The Hague four years ago.

Word Perfect, who was Christopher Bartle's winning partner at Badminton this year, damaged a tendon in his off foreleg during a routine training gallop last week. The 10-year-old will be off for the rest of the season. "Obviously I'm deeply disappointed , but it's a very slight injury which will heal given time," Bartle said.

Cosmopolitan, the mount of William Fox-Pitt, was injured on Sunday during the Scottish Open Championships at Thirlestane Castle, where he was pulled up after landing awkwardly at the third fence from home. On examination yesterday morning, Cosmopolitan was slightly lame on his near fore.

Fox-Pitt has had three months off himself, having broken a leg in a fall at the end of April. He had cast-iron claims for selection, having won team gold and individual silver medals with Cosmopolitan at last year's European Championships, where he was best of the British quartet, which also included Bartle.

The selectors will be hoping that nothing goes wrong with the 13 other shortlisted horses during the final trial at Henbury Hall in Cheshire this weekend. The World Games squad is due to be announced next Tuesday.