Local campaigners and leading equestrian figures have raised concerns that the work required to transform the south London park for the Olympics, particularly the 6km cross-country course, could irrevocably damage the Unesco World Heritage Site.
Objectors have also launched a withering attack on plans to convert the park, claiming it would barely be able to hold 20,000 spectators – while the annual Badminton Horse Trials regularly attracts crowds of 250,000.
Preparation for the games is also expected to close the park to the general public for 15 months, the longest disruption to the site since its opening as a public park in the 18th Century.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, rider and Olympic trainer Dane Rawlins said: ‘We shouldn’t have to desecrate a jewel of London to put on a two-week horse event.
‘The cross-country will ruin the park. They will have to cut the paths out and the track will have to go through the flower garden. The tree canopy is too low and trees will have to be cut or removed.’