Michael Jung of Germany, the 2012 Olympic eventing double gold medallist, will not be riding Takinou as planned at the Rio Olympics. “Today I have to write the worst news of the year,” said Jung on his Facebook page. “Takinou has suffered a febrile infection [fever] after his victory in Aachen and cannot fly to Rio.”

All is not lost, however, as Jung has several very good alternates in Sam, his 16-year-old London Olympic partner, and Rocana, the 11-year-old mare on which he won Rolex Kentucky two years in a row.

Jung is a hot favourite to win back-to-back gold in Rio, something only two combinations have ever accomplished: Mark Todd (NZL) and Charisma in 1984 and 1988, and Charles Pahud de Mortanges (NED) on Marcroix in 1928 and 1932.