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Last year we said a sad farewell to Sir Mark Todd, the eventing legend as he retired from eventing for the last time. He is my all-time favourite rider. Not only was he hugely successful, he rode what looked to be very sharp horses, had incredible balance and was a huge part of the wider eventing world. He even coached the Brazil team in the Rio 2016 Olympics. But he hasn’t disappeared and has instead turned his focus back to horse racing.
Mark has always been interested in racing, hoping to be a jockey when he was younger. But being so tall (6 foot 2!) he turned his attention to other equestrian sports. After he retired from eventing for the first time in 2000 he started training racehorses back in New Zealand. His brief training career was successful, winning the 2003 New Zealand Oaks and 2007 Wellington Cup before returning to eventing in time for the 2008 Olympics.
After his retirement last year he converted his eventing yard Badgerstown into a flat racing stables. Being designed as an eventing yard could perhaps give him some interesting benefits, such as ample turnout and off-road hacking which may not be available to other racing yards. I am certainly excited to follow his progress as a trainer.
In June he had his first UK winner. He took the Leicester Racecourse Supporting Frontline Workers handicap on the 30th of June with four-year-old mare Petit Bay. But while that was his first win, it hasn’t been his only success. When you look at his training record for this year it is certainly promising. From 11 runs he has had 2 placings and a win, giving him a 9% strike rate, which isn’t too shabby at all from a new trainer.
He currently has 15 horses in training, but with space for plenty more. A few of these are unnamed 2 year olds who will be getting ready to make an appearance later this year, which could be very exciting. I really wish Mark Todd the very best and it is great to see this amazing horseman showing his skills in another area of the equine world.