LONDON, England ● Australian horseman Shane Rose suffered Olympic heartbreak once again on Sunday after he was forced to pull out of the London Games due to an injury to his mount Taurus.
Team vets left the decision until the last minute to give the horse every possible chance of recovering from the soft-tissue injury to its left front leg but decided not to risk it given the rigours of the Olympic three-day eventing competition.
Rose tasted similar disappointment in 1996 when his horse Mr Joe Cool went lame just before the Atlanta Games. He struggled to contain his emotions at a news conference and conceded he cannot get away from London quickly enough.
“It was pretty devastating,” said Rose, who won team silver in Beijing. “I was really starting to get excited thinking not much could go wrong. This morning it was a pretty hollow feeling.”
Rose backed the decision to withdraw Taurus.
“We knew today was the day that decisions were going to be made about horses,” he said, fighting back tears. “I watched him trot up this morning and he wasn’t happy.
“It’s certainly not a life-threatening injury and I’m certain he’ll be back in the near future.”
Instead of saddling up for the start of the eventing competition on Saturday, Rose wants to be on a flight to Australia within the next 24 hours.
“The Olympic Games is not a very nice place to be if you’re not accredited,” he said.
Rose’s bitter loss will be Megan Jones’s gain. The reserve rider and her horse Allofasudden will replace Rose pending official approval.
The team’s Equestrian Section Manager Brett Mace said Rose’s absence was a setback but Jones was a capable replacement.
“There is no doubt this is a blow for the team and we feel for Shane who has worked for many years preparing Taurus for these Games,” said Mace in an Australian Olympic Committee statement.
“But we had to take the advice of our vets in relation to performance and also horse welfare and therefore Megan Jones and Allofasudden will be added to the team. Megan has been working with her horse to ensure they are competition ready.
“She has the experience and proven track record to make it at this level of competition after finishing with a team silver medal and fourth individually at Beijing.
“The team now needs to focus on finalising preparation, and while Shane will be a loss, we feel our medal chances remain just as strong,” he said.
The eventing competition at Greenwich Park begins on Saturday.