Mark Todd – a tribute

  • Living in a world of high-level adrenalin for 20 years, Todd will have to find a comparable buzz or risk acute withdrawal symptoms.

    “I will miss it, I’m sure, but I hope I’ll have enough on to keep me occupied. We’d always intended to go back to New Zealand when I finished riding and we bought a lovely property out there last December. There is so much building and tree planting to do that it’s going to take a huge amount of time.

    “We’ll also have some horses to race and I getan incredible kick out of that.

    “We¨ve always had the odd horse in training and I almost get more worked up before a race than I do at a competition. You don’t have any control over what is happening, all you can do is sit and watch. It canbe very alarming sometimes, but if I don’t get enough of an adrenalin buzz out of it, I can always go sky diving or rock climbing to scare myself a bit.”

    Todd has, though, no intention of becoming New Zealand’s Henry Cecil.”I want to train a few horses for ourselves, but our main interests lie in the commercial breeding of racehorses.”

    The Todds already have six broodmares in New Zealand, including Sounds Like Fun, a winner of eight group races and one of the top race maresof her time.

    “When I sold my herd of cows and moved to England in 1983, I went to the National Yearling sales in New Zealand and bought two fillies. One was absolutely useless and the other was this mare. She went on to win 11 times, including the Great Northern Oaks, and she also ran second in the New Zealand Oaks. Unfortunately, she has left nothing that has her ability. We have an assortment of other mares, including another group winner.”

    With a solid core of quality broodmares established, Todd will hit the ground running.

    “I don¨t know at this stage how big we’re going to get. Our idea for now is to have 10 nice well-bred mares and breed to sell yearlings, perhaps keeping some of the fillies to race.”

    Meanwhile, he is as yet unsure about his eventing interests.

    “I want to take a year or so away to get ourselves set up in New Zealand and then have a think about it. I recently did a clinic in New Zealand for the elite squad and I suppose I will be involved to a degree on that front, but I certainly don’t want to become a full-time trainer.

    “I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at bit of cross-country course-building, or I thought I wanted to up until last year.

    “I suppose I might own an event horse and I certainly want to produce some youngsters to sell, but I think I would be a pretty bad owner and would have to stay away.”

    Despite being an obvious candidate to become an FEI judge, Todd is not sokeen.

    “Oh no, not me at all! I wouldn’t mind it as a one-off thing, but I couldn’t go through all the preliminary stuff you have to do to get qualified. And I would want to do it while my friends are still competing, so I can have a laugh and be really mean to them!”

    Is there anything that Mark Todd regrets? “The only thing is that I never won the World Championships. I came as close as I was ever going to last time, when I was second.

    “I would also like to have done more show jumping. I achieved a certain amount; I won a World Cup qualifier, a grand prix, was second in the British Grand Prix and got to show jump at Olympic level, but I would have loved to have had a good team of horses and seen if I could have been among the top in that.”

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