Mark Todd will head New Zealand’s eventing team at the Beijing Olympic Games.

The eventing legend, who won individual gold at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, was delighted by the news. He told Horse & Hound: “I’m really looking forward to it, and we’ve got a solid team that’s strong in all phases.”

Mark has been working hard on Gandalf’s dressage, which he describes at the horse’s weakest phase. “He’s changing shape all the time and I’m pleased with how he’s progressing,” he said.

He is joined in the team by Andrew Nicholson (Lord Killinghurst), Caroline Powell (Lenamore), Joe Meyer (Snip) and Heelan Tompkins (Sugoi).

Andrew and Mark are the first New Zealanders in any sport to compete at six Olympic Games.

New Zealand Olympic selector and secretary general, Barry Maister, said: “Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson are among our finest Olympians and to have athletes attending their sixth Games is testament to the depth of talent we have in New Zealand sport.”

Andrew Nicholson commented: “It’s a pretty good team. It’s better than what it could have been a couple of years ago and it’s getting stronger all the time. We have a good chance of winning a team medal.”

British-based Joe Meyer and Caroline Powell are both making their Olympic debuts, while Heelan Tompkins — who showed good form in New Zealand before coming to England a couple of months ago — was the best-placed of the New Zealand team at the Athens Olympics, where she finished seventh with her brilliant old campaigner Glengarrick.

“This is the most excited I have been about any of the teams I have been in,” she said. “The riders are individually strong and hopefully together it will produce a medal result.”

Mark Todd gallery