Mark Todd (equestrian)

Sir Mark James Todd KNZM CBE (born 1 March 1956) is a New Zealand horseman noted for his accomplishments in the discipline of eventing, voted Rider of the 20th century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.[1]

Sir Mark Todd
Mark Todd Gandalf Barbury dressage 2008.jpg
Todd on Gandalf at the 2008 Barbury International Horse Trials
Personal information
Full nameMark James Todd
Born (1956-03-01) 1 March 1956 (age 66)
Cambridge, New Zealand
Todd and Major Milestone at the Dairy Farm during the cross-country phase of Burghley Horse Trials 2010
Todd and NZB Land Vision during the cross-country phase of the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials

He won gold medals at Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) Olympics, the Badminton Horse Trials on four occasions,[2] the Burghley Horse Trials five times,[3] and as a member of New Zealand's Eventing team, he won gold medals at the World Championships in 1990 and 1998 (Rome), plus 20 or more other international events, and numerous other international individual and team titles.

In 1988, he was announced as the New Zealand Sportsperson of the year and winner of the Supreme Halberg Award.[4] In the same year, he was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.[5]

On 25 April 2011, Todd completed a fourth Badminton victory riding NZB Land Vision, becoming the oldest winner of the event.[2]

By winning his fifth Olympic medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Todd equalled the Olympic record established by Hungarian fencer Aladár Gerevich for the longest gap between first and last Olympic medals — 28 years[6] — and shares the record for second-most Olympic medals won by a New Zealander with canoeists Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald.[7] The 2016 Games were Todd's seventh, having previously competed in 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008 and 2012. Todd is the first New Zealander to have competed at seven Olympic Games.

In February of 2022, a video emerged of Todd repeatedly hitting a horse with a branch for refusing to enter a water obstacle at a training clinic.[8]

Early lifeEdit

Born in Cambridge, New Zealand,[9] he developed a deep and abiding passion for horses.[10] He rode at pony club as a youngster and competed at local shows.[1]

Todd considered becoming a jockey but quickly grew to 6 ft 2 in which forced him into show jumping instead. In reference to his riding skills, fellow New Zealand team member, Andrew Nicholson, is quoted as saying "Mark can ride anything – he could go cross-country on a dairy cow!”[11]

On leaving school Todd pursued a career as a farmer, gaining a Diploma of Agriculture at the Waikato Technical Institute, and working on farms while fitting in riding, competing and selling horses.[10]

Equestrian careerEdit

In 1978, he was part of New Zealand's first three-day eventing team to contest a world championship, at Lexington, Kentucky, United States. He was 10th after the dressage and second in the steeplechase, but then his horse, Tophunter, broke down during the cross-country stage.[10] Thereafter, Todd moved to England, where he mucked out stables and obtained use of horses for event rides. At his first attempt, in 1980, he won the Badminton Horse Trials riding Southern Comfort.[2] Todd was a virtual unknown when he arrived, with fellow New Zealander Andrew Nicholson as his groom.[10]

Todd is recognized as a pioneer of three-day eventing in New Zealand. His success was followed by fellow New Zealand Olympic medallists and world champions like Tinks Pottinger, Blyth Tait, Vaughn Jefferis, Vicky Latta, Sally Clark and Nicholson. Jefferis once said: "We all owe a huge debt to Mark Todd. He was the first, and he paved the way for us".[12]


Todd became a popular sportsman in his home country and some of the horses he rode also became well-known. Most notable was Charisma, the 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) Thoroughbred (with 1/16 Percheron) Todd rode when winning successive Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988.[13] Charisma was retired to a Waikato farm after the Seoul Olympics but appeared with Todd for later public appearances including flag bearing at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland New Zealand. Charisma died aged 30 from a broken shoulder.[14]

In 1984 Todd borrowed a yard at Kington St Michael, Wiltshire, from his friend Charles Cottenham, so that he could base himself in England.[15]

In the 1985 New Year Honours, Todd was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire,[16] and he was elevated to Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours.[17]

Todd also competed at the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, where he won an individual bronze medal. His win was somewhat clouded by allegations in the Sunday Mirror that Todd had used cocaine with a homosexual partner prior to final team selection.[18] The controversy was a matter of national debate,[19][20] and almost cost Todd his team selection.[21]


Todd retired from international competition following the Olympics and returned to live in New Zealand. Todd and his family moved to Rivermonte Farm near his home town of Cambridge[22] in Waikato to breed horses and concentrate on several business ventures, including the manufacture/retail of harness and other tack. His Thoroughbreds enjoyed racing success, including wins in the Wellington Cup and New Zealand Oaks. He remained closely involved with the administration of the eventing, acting as coach for the NZ Olympic Eventing team at Athens in 2004. He continued to compete in eventing at a local level and to support the sport in general.


On 25 January 2008, Horse & Hound announced online that Mark Todd was to make a return to Eventing eight years after he retired in Sydney. He purchased a 10-year-old grey called Gandalf to campaign for selection to ride at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His comeback was sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock.

On 19 May 2008, Todd placed sixth at a three-day equestrian event in Saumur, France. Subsequently, achieving qualification and selection for the Olympics, he put up one of the best performances of the NZ team, in what was only his eighth competition in eight years. The New Zealand team finished fifth, and Todd managed the second best individual performance for the team, coming in 17th overall.[23]

Following Beijing, Todd competed for the inaugural Express Eventing International Cup on Gandalf.[24] However, three refusals in the show jumping portion resulted in a poor placing. In February 2009, Todd announced that he was making a full return to elite level eventing, basing himself in England with a team of up to 8 horses including Gandalf.[23]

Competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Todd became the second oldest New Zealand Olympian in history.[25]

In the 2013 New Year Honours, Todd was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to equestrian sport.[26][27] His investiture at Buckingham Palace in May 2013 took place only days after the death of his father, Norm.[28]

Todd got selected to represent New Zealand at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Once again he became the second oldest New Zealand Olympian in history, as the fellow equestrian Julie Brougham made her Olympic debut at the age of 62.[29] At the Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Todd finished 4th in the team competition and 7th individually. Todd was the last team member to compete in the jumping phase, however, he uncharacteristically dropped four rails. As a result, New Zealand team missed out on a possible gold medal. Todd later described this outcome as one of the biggest lows of his career.[30]

Viral videoEdit

In February 2022, a two-year old video emerged of Todd hitting a horse with a tree branch at a training clinic. The horse had refused to enter a water obstacle, and Todd hit it ten times. Todd issued an apology after the video was published.[8][31] The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced it was carrying out an investigation. In the interim, Todd was issued with a temporary suspension of his licence.[32] Todd stepped down as a patron of the charity World Horse Welfare.[32] Todd's training licence was returned to him on 14 April 2022 after an independent disciplinary panel issued him with a four month suspension with two months deferred, which meant that he had already served the eight-week suspension.[33]

Partial CCI 5* ResultsEdit

Event Kentucky Badminton Luhmühlen Burghley Pau Adelaide
1980   (Southern Comfort III)
1987   (Wilton Fair)
1990   (Face The Music)
1991   (Welton Greylag)
1994   (Horton Point)
1996   (Bertie Blunt)
1997   (Broadcast News)
1999   (Diamond Hall Red)
2010 18th (Grass Valley) 11th (Major Milestone)
2011 WD (Grass Valley)   (NZB Landvision)

35th (Major Milestone)

14th (Major Milestone)
2012 WD (Major Milestone) 12th (Major Milestone) EL (Major Milestone)
2013 48th (Major Milestone)WD (Ravenstar) 6th (Oloa)

WD (Ravenstar)

2014 WD (Oloa) 14th (Leonidas II)EL (NZB Campino) 21st (Oloa)
2015 4th (Leonidas II)

41st (Oloa)

5th (NZB Campino) 6th (Leonidas II) 10th (NZB Campino)
2016 7th (NZB Campino) 4th (Leonidas II) 9th (NZB Campino)
2017 4th (NZB Campino)6th (Leonidas II) EL (Leonidas II) 25th (Kiltubrid Rhapsody)RET (NZB Campino)
2018 6th (Kiltubrid Rhapsody)14th (Kiltubrid Rhapsody) 18th (NZB Campino)

EL (Kiltubrid Rhapsody)

2019 RET (NZB Campino)
EL = Eliminated; RET = Retired; WD = Withdrew

Partial International Championship resultsEdit

Year Event Horse Placing Notes
1984 Olympic Games Charisma 6th Team
1986 World Eventing Championships Charisma 4th Team
10th Individual
1988 Olympic Games Charisma   Team
1990 World Equestrian Games Bahlua   Team
5th Individual
1992 Olympic Games Welton Greylag   Team
RET Individual
1994 World Equestrian Games Just An Ace 6th Team
47th Individual
1998 World Equestrian Games Broadcast News   Team
2000 Olympic Games Eyespy II 8th Team
2008 Olympic Games Gandalf 5th Team
17th Individual
2009 World Cup Final Gandalf EL
2010 World Equestrian Games Grass Valley   Team
11th Individual
2012 Olympic Games NZB Campino   Team
12th Individual
2014 World Equestrian Games Leonidas II 14th Team
EL Individual
2016 Olympic Games Leonidas II 4th Team
7th Individual
2018 World Equestrian Games McClaren 7th Team
57th Individual
EL = Eliminated; RET = Retired; WD = Withdrew

Personal lifeEdit

Todd married Carolyn Berry in 1986 and had two children, Lauren and James.[10] They separated in 2009.[34] The couple remarried in 2014, with only their children present as witnesses.[35]

Todd's autobiography, So Far, So Good,[10] was published in 1998. He has 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). He has also produced a series of training videos.


  1. ^ a b "Mark Todd". The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "RIDER BIOGRAPHY – Mark Todd" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Past Winners". Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  4. ^ "1980–1989 Halberg Award Winners". The Halberg Trust. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Inductees – Mark Todd". New Zealand Sports hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  6. ^ "New Zealand three-day eventers win bronze". Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Sir Mark Todd overcome with emotion at prospect of sixth Olympic equestrian medal". Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Mark Todd apologises for hitting horse with a branch in viral video: 'I am very disappointed in myself'". Horse & Hound. 12 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Famous New Zealanders – Mark Todd". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e f (Todd, 1998 p. 1)
  11. ^ Louise Parkes (27 May 2008). "A Tall Order? Not if Your Name is Todd". USEF Network.
  12. ^ "Biography – Mark Todd". NEW ZEALAND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Kiwis Shed Tears for Charisma". Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  14. ^ Todd 1998 p. 56
  15. ^ Mark Todd, Second Chance: The Autobiography (2012), pp. 30–31
  16. ^ "No. 49970". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 31 December 1984. p. 2.
  17. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 1995". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Todd rides out scandal storm". CNN Sports Illustrated. 1 September 2000. Archived from the original on 14 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  19. ^ Boulware, Jack (28 June 2000). "Horseplay". Archived from the original on 6 November 2003.
  20. ^ "Greatness still in Todd despite time and troubles". The Southland Times. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  21. ^ Romanos (2008)
  22. ^ "Cambridge iSite Visitor & Community Information Centre | Ph +64 (7) 823 3456 | Cambridge Town & Waipa District – Waikato – New Zealand. Quality Local & Business Directory".
  23. ^ a b "Mark Todd announces full return to eventing | Horsetalk – International horse news". Horsetalk. 24 February 2009.
  24. ^ "Express Eventing – Welcome". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009.
  25. ^ "Mark Todd best bet to carry NZ's flag again". Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  26. ^ "New Year Honours 2013" (29 January 2013) 8 The New Zealand Gazette 293.
  27. ^ "New Year honours list 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Mark Todd receives knighthood". News Hub. 18 May 2013.
  29. ^ "Brougham knocks Todd from top spot". New Zealand Olympic Committee. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Rio Olympics 2016: Sir Mark Todd devastated as Kiwi three-day eventers miss out on medals". 10 August 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Sir Mark Todd issues apology after video shows him hitting horse with a branch". Racing Post. 13 February 2022.
  32. ^ a b "Trainer Sir Mark Todd suspended by BHA with video investigations ongoing". Racing Post. 16 February 2022.
  33. ^ "Sir Mark Todd to resume training after accepting breach for striking horse". Racing Post. 14 April 2022.
  34. ^ "Mark Todd leaves his wife". The New Zealand Herald. 26 December 2010.
  35. ^ "The Diary: It's two for the Todds as Sir Mark remarries ex". The New Zealand Herald. 20 December 2014.

Further readingEdit

  • Todd, M., So Far, So Good: The Autobiography, 1998, Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Romanos, J., Our Olympic Century. 2008, Trio Books Limited, Wellington New Zealand.

External linksEdit

Preceded by New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Preceded by Halberg Awards – Supreme Award
Succeeded by