Thursday 24 February 2011

Mark Todd Bringing Two Of The Best To Badminton

Mark Todd returned to the 3-Day-Event scene in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, and since then has had the most successful 'comeback' in the sport, recently picking up a bronze team medal at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last autumn riding Grass Valley, the horse he rode at Badminton earlier that year.

This year Mark hopes to return to Badminton, not only with Grass Valley, but his favoured London 2012 prospect, NZB Land Vision, on whom he won both an Advanced class at Highclere, and a CIC*** at Blenheim.

I remember seeing this lovely grey horse for the first time at Highclere last year, and being completely in awe at how graceful he looked in the dressage warm up and how athletic he was cross country. Mark's faith in this horse is not idle chest beating, but well deserved praise for a horse that didn't really put a foot wrong last season, and only dropped one rail all year, (on wet ground at Boekelo, to finish second).

I met up with Mark at his base in Hampshire yesterday, and the first thing to strike me was how peaceful and relaxed his yard is. All the horses happily munching away on hay, whilst the radio played quietly across the yard entertaining grooms as they went about their business, and a place for everything and everything is in it's place. This also, clearly sums up the man himself - quiet, confident, relaxed and organised, flustered only momentarily as he suddenly remembers our arranged interview.

Whilst Mark is extremely driven competitively, he is reassuringly commercial, and the need to keep the ship afloat financially is still up there on the list of priorities along side winning gold at London. Every horse in the yard is for sale "at some point", all part of the original plan.

So with some heady prices being banded about for other 4 star horses, it might be worth waiting to see what Mark offers for sale this season!

Mark Todd gained notoriety in the 1990s by riding around most of the Badminton cross country course with only one stirrup, and I spent some time with him on camera talking about his Badminton exploits, his career so far, and his plans for the future. Oh, and listen out for what he has to say about one of his horses, Regent Lad!

My thanks to Mark, and keep an eye on the blog as we'll be bringing you more interviews and talking to Mark again about his progress in the run up to Badminton.

No time to sit and watch this interview? Download the audio version and play it on your iPod at your leisure.

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