Mark Todd is planning a comeback to eventing — and could even ride at the Olympics this summer.
The legendary New Zealander, who won individual Olympic gold medals back-to-back on Charisma in 1984 and 1988, has bought Gandalf, a 10-year-old grey who won the CIC*** at Richfields last year.
“He was available to be bought, so I flew up to Auckland, tried him out, had him vetted and it all happened very quickly. There wasn’t a lot of planning involved, it all just happened,” said 51-year-old Mark, whose comeback is being sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock.
“I’m looking at this as a challenge and a bit of fun and I’m putting absolutely no pressure on myself. If it happens, it happens and that’s how I’m approaching it.”
Mark’s former team-mate Andrew Nicholson said: “It would be the best thing that could happen for the whole sport to have him back.”
Mark and Gandalf will have their first major outing at Arran Station, in Hawke’s Bay on 24 February. The aim then will be the Manakau City Puhinui three-day event (13-16 March).
“Gandalf has got a good record,’’ said Mark. “He’s a very good jumper and he looks after himself so that sounds good to me. I might need a little looking after.”
Mark bowed out of top-level eventing at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where he won an individual bronze medal, and moved back to New Zealand, where he has been training racehorses.
“I’ve been riding every day but that’s been racehorses,” he said. “I’m fit but I’m going to have to get more particularly fit for eventing.
“I feel that I’m going to be able to just slot back in but until you actually get out there and do it, you don’t really know. In my mind, I can still do it all. Whether the body will operate, I don’t know.
“Some people might think I’m on free ticket to the Olympics but that’s just not going to happen. My performance is going to have to be as good as or better than the other team members and at this stage I’m not even qualified, so it’s a long journey in a short time.”