Eventing legend retires Olympic horse to be ‘pampered’ at home

A horse who won an Olympic medal in one of his first international seasons is to spend a happy retirement “generally being pampered” at home.

Mark Todd has paid tribute to NZB Campino, who is stepping out of the limelight aged 17, but will stay at the Todds’ Wiltshire yard. 

“Kinky” has been with Mark since 2009, and his stable name came about almost by mistake.

“He arrived when I wasn’t there,” Mark told H&H. “He’d been ridden by the Japanese rider Kenki Sato, so the girls at the yard thought the tag on his collar said Kinky, called him that, and it stuck – but it did kind of suit him.”

Mark said the Contendro gelding was a “funny character”, who had quirks such as refusing to leave the stable until he felt like it, and also a “very sweet horse”.

“He always liked to play games with you,” Mark said, adding that Kinky had “a funny thing about ditches”.

“He jumped the Vicarage Vee at Badminton and the Cottesmore Leap at Burghley but show him a tiny ditch in a coffin and he’d have a fit!”

But Kinky overcame this fear to win Hartpury CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) in 2010 as an eight-year-old, and went up through the grades with his stablemate Leonidas, who had arrived at about the same time.

He and Mark were on the New Zealand team that won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics, “a staggering achievement at just 10 years old after barely two seasons in the game”, and finish 12th individually.

In 2015, Kinky and Mark won Tattersalls CIC3* (now CCI4*-S), came fifth at Luhmühlen and 10th at Pau. They finished ninth at Burghley in 2016, and fourth at Badminton in 2017.

Mark was selected for the 2016 Rio Olympics on both Kinky and Leonidas but took the latter, the team finishing in fourth place.

“I should have taken him to Rio – but then, hindsight is a wonderful thing!” Mark said.

“He’s always had his quirks but he’s been a real yard favourite for a long time, and especially in the last few years, he’s been a really fun horse to ride. He’s great to ride cross-country, and as long as you don’t try to boss him in the dressage, he’ll do his best.”

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Mark explained that Kinky had an operation to remove a bone spur behind his knee last year. Although this seemed to have been a success, he believes it may have started growing back, causing temporary lameness issues.

“I’m not going to put him through another operation, or under pressure,” Mark said. “He’s sound now, and it’s just not worth it, so he will do as little or as much as he wants.”

Kinky will now be a hack for Mark’s wife Carolyn, look after youngsters in the fields and be pampered by Mark’s head girl Jess Wilson, with whom he has a “special bond”.

Looking back on a career that also included the eventers’ challenge at Hickstead, the high jump competition at Blenheim and a number of chase me Charlies at his home yard, Mark added: “He was so photogenic. Every picture of him jumping, his knees are absolutely perfect, and his face like a seahorse’s – he was special in many ways.”

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