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Arko out of 2008 Olympic running

Arko III ridden by Nick Skelton
Arko and Skelton did not perform well at Athens in 2004

One of GB's top show jumping horses, Arko, will not compete at this summer's Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong.

The horse has been withdrawn from the Olympic selection process by owners the Hales family, the British team management and rider Nick Skelton.

British Show Jumping's Derek Ricketts said Arko's stud duties and veterinary advice suggested "it wouldn't be fair to target him for the Olympics."

The decision means Skelton will also miss the Games.

Skelton broke his neck competing in September 2000, but battle back to compete at Athens in 2004, finishing equal 11th on Arko.

The Olympics are challenging wherever they are held and Arko's withdrawal was down to a combination of factors

Will Connell, British Equestrian Federation
Had the pair been selected to travel to Hong Kong, Skelton would have made his sixth Olympic appearance.

"Obviously this was not an easy decision, but one we felt would be in Arko's best interests," added Ricketts.

Will Connell, performance director at the British Equestrian Federation, said: "This decision has been made with the best interests of the horse in mind to ensure his long term future as both a working stallion and international competition horse."

Connell also told the BBC's Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes: "There was never any guarantee Arko would have been selected for Hong Kong but he is a very good horse."

Connell denied fears over the heat and humidity in Hong Kong had played a part in the decision to withdraw Arko.

"The Olympics are a challenging competition wherever they are held and Arko's withdrawal was down to a combination of factors," he said.

"The facilities for the horses in Hong Kong are some of the best I've ever seen."

The British team for this summer's Olympics will be announced in June.

Skelton and Arko will remain available for this year's equestrian Super League events.

see also
Arko bows out
15 Feb 08 |  Equestrian
Dressage star questions heat fear
14 Jan 08 |  Equestrian
British team ease equestrian fear
10 Jan 08 |  Equestrian
Skelton enjoys success with Arko
27 Oct 07 |  Equestrian
Arko III refusals hit GB hopes
01 Aug 06 |  Equestrian
Skelton and Arko claim Rome title
28 May 06 |  Equestrian
Skelton back in the saddle
24 Apr 02 |  England
Equestrian sport on the BBC
05 Sep 07 |  Equestrian
Team GB for Beijing
29 Nov 07 |  Team GB
Show jumping's new breed
10 Oct 07 |  Equestrian

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