Fading Star hinders Skelton’s Grand Slam bid

Equestrian rider Nick Skelton
Equestrian rider Nick Skelton
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Nick Skelton’s Olympic gold medal-winning ride Big Star has been ruled out of the London International Horse Show at Olympia later this month due to injury.

The stallion, owned by Gary and Beverley Widdowson, is expected to be sidelined from competition until January.

He will also miss this week’s five-star Geneva show, where 58-year-old Skelton had hoped to begin his quest for showjumping’s Rolex Grand Slam, which carries an £830,000 bonus if any rider completes successive victories at Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows in Calgary.

In a statement released by British Showjumping, Rio individual showjumping champion Skelton said: “He has twisted a joint.

“It’s nothing terrible, but four to six weeks’ rest from top-level competition is the order of the day, and it goes without saying that is what we will do.

“We are all extremely disappointed that he will not be making his presence felt at both these shows, but trust everyone understands that his welfare is paramount.

“He is fine to be ridden and exercised gently, so we are still aiming to parade him at Olympia.

“He is such a character, who could possibly deprive him of being in the spotlight once again, especially when it is on home soil at such a special show?”

A parade of British Olympic medallists takes places at Olympia on December 16, and Skelton will also be making public appearances during the seven-day event, but there will be no competitive appearance for Big Star.

The combination, Britain’s first showjumping individual champions in Olympic history, also helped Great Britain to second place at September’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona, and then claimed third place in Toronto’s World Cup class last month.

Skelton, meanwhile, is among 16 nominations for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which takes place on December 18 at the same arena used annually for the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.