WILLIAM Fox-Pitt’s World Equestrian Games double medal-winning horse Cool Mountain is out of contention for London 2012.
The Sturminster Newton star has confirmed that Cool Mountain will take the year off after suffering a tendon injury last season.
But such is the former world number one’s enviable string of rides that he still has three horses firmly in Olympics contention, with two having already won
elite four-star competitions.
Fox-Pitt landed the Rolex Kentucky title with Cool Mountain in April 2010, then returned to that venue for the world championship six months later, winning individual silver and helping Great
Britain to team gold.
“It is particularly sad to have Cool Mountain off this year,” said Fox-Pitt, at his North Dorset yard.
“He has done incredibly well, and in a way he was my banker. That was the horse I thought I would be riding.
“He injured a tendon in Germany last year. It’s not very serious, but I am going to give him a whole year off. That would give him the best chance of recovering for the future.”
Fox-Pitt, 43, guided Olympic contenders Parklane Hawk and Oslo to respective victories at Burghley and Pau last year, while ever-improving Lionheart also has London claims.
And Fox-Pitt, the only rider in eventing history to win the world’s five four-star events – Badminton, Kentucky, Luhmuhlen, Burghley and Pau – is predictably excited by what could lie ahead.
On current form, he is set to forge a powerful British team alongside other probable 2012 Olympians Mary King, the new world number one, Piggy French, Nicola Wilson and one other, possibly Tina
Cook, Pippa Funnell, Laura Collett or Oliver Townend.
“It’s very important you treat it as any other year, really,” he said.
“It is important for me to remember that I have ridden in three previous Olympic Games, and this is just another one.
“But having said that, it is quite hard to keep that in perspective because London is something that has really focused the mind for a long time.
“It has been a target, and then suddenly you find yourself in 2012. I think the challenge is going to be to try to be as normal as possible, get selected and then be in one piece at that time.
“Oslo, Lionheart and Parklane Hawk are all quite new to four-star level, with all of them doing their first four-stars at the end of last year. They performed incredibly well, but they are going to
have to do that again.
“I think the selectors are watching carefully to see how they have come on, and hopefully they will have done.
“All three have got strengths and weaknesses, but they are looking promising at this stage. They are very good horses mentally and they are very confident, and I think that will count for a lot.
“I am very lucky to have three horses in contention. Oslo and Lionheart I’ve had right from novice level, and Park-lane Hawk has really stepped up to the mark.”
Fox-Pitt and his team, who are based in the picturesque village of Hinton St Mary, are building towards the eventing season’s opening competitions during early March.
But the campaign will soon step up a gear, with the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials taking centre stage in early May during a packed pre-Olympics programme.