Mark Todd is among the most celebrated New Zealand sportsmen, with two Olympic gold medals and numerous other honours. He was named to compete in six successive Olympic Games, though he missed the first games, in Moscow in 1980, because of the American-led boycott.
Mark was a pioneer of three-day eventing in New Zealand and, in 1978, was part of New Zealand’s first three-day eventing team to contest a world championship. Those who followed him included Olympic medalists and world champions like Andrew Nicholson, Blyth Tait, Vaughn Jefferis, Vicky Latta, Sally Clark and Tinks Pottinger. Jefferis once said: “We all owe a huge debt to Mark Todd. He was the first, and he paved the way for the rest of us.”
In his first attempt at Badminton in 1980, riding Southern Comfort, Todd was 45th after the dressage, but was one of only three inside the time on the cross-country. Going into the final day he was third. When Lucinda Prior-Palmer and Helen Butler came unstuck during the show jumping, Todd was Badminton champion. It was his first major victory in what was to become a glittering 20-year career at the top. The highest peaks were his two Olympic gold medals on Charisma, in 1984 & 1988. It was only recently at the Rio Olympics in 2016 that Michael Jung equalled Mark's record of holding back to back individual Gold medals.
Mark went on to win Badminton again in 1994, 1996 and more recently in 2011 whilst also achieving a record five wins at Burghley in 1987, 1990, 1991, 1997 and 1999. He has twice helped New Zealand teams to win world titles (1990 & 1998), was inducted in to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, won the Supreme Halberg Award and was named New Zealand's Sportsperson of the Year in 1988 plus he was voted FEI Event Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation in 2000. He also was proud to carry New Zealand's flag at the Opening Ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and was made an MBE [Member of the British Empire] in 1984 and a CBE [Commander of the British Empire] in 1995.
Mark retired from international competition following the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and returned to live in New Zealand. Based in his home town of Cambridge he now turned his attention to the world of flat racing and began a new career training and breeding racehorses that led to Group One wins within the first year and successes in the Wellington Cup and New Zealand Oaks. Never far from the sport of Eventing he acted as coach for the NZ Olympic Eventing team at Athens in 2004 and continued to compete in eventing at a local level and to support the sport in general.
It was then in 2008, with sponsorship from New Zealand Bloodstock, that he decided to return to the sport on the international stage, his target to represent New Zealand at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He purchased a 10-year old grey called Gandalf, “He was available to be bought, so I flew up to Auckland, tried him out, had him vetted and it all happened very quickly”. It was then in May 2008 that Mark & Gandalf qualified for Beijing at Saumur in France. He put up one of the best performances of the New Zealand team, managing the second best Kiwi performance despite being the trailbalzer for the whole of the eventing discipline!
In February 2009, Mark announced he was making a full return to the sport and has subsequently made appearances at Badminton and Burghley with numerous other outing at 2* and 3* (winning at Somerley, Houghton and Hartpury). In 2012, Mark followed up his Olympic return in Beijing with selection for Team New Zealand at the London Olympics where New Zealand claimed a team Bronze, Mark finishing 12th individually. In 2013, Mark completed both Badminton and Burghley, finishing 7th on Oloa, and had several other excellent results including a 3rd at Blenhiem and a 3rd at Boekelo. He also successfully reloacted his base of operations to Badgerstown near Swindon.
In 2014 Mark was yet again on the NZ World Equestrian Games team which was an ill fated WEG from its hastliy organised outset! Mark had climbed right back into the top 5 of the FEI rider rankings with his consistent placings througout the year. In 2015 his current top 2 horses, Leonidas and NZB Campino really started to impact on the 4 star scene and by 2016 Leonidas had finished individual 7th at the Rio Olympic Games and NZB Campino top 10 at Burghley.
2017 started brilliantly with both horses inside the top 6 at Badminton and sees Mark building his string towards the Tyron World Games in the USA in 2018.
You can read more about Mark in his autobiography, So Far So Good (1998) and all about his return to the sport in his second autobiography, Second Chance (2012). He has also had several other books published including “Charisma” (1989), “One Day Eventing”, “Mark Todd’s Cross-Country Handbook” (1995) and “Novice Eventing with Mark Todd” (1996). Plus he has also produced a series of training videos.