Mark Todd joins lineup of top eventers

May 15, 2009

A star-studded lineup of riders will be joined by Kiwi comeback rider Mark Todd at the Chatsworth International Horse Trials this weekend.

Dual Olympic champion Todd came out of an eight-year retirement last year, and will lend star quality to the fourth leg of the 2009 HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing competition, a class which has already attracted a star-studded entry of 45 horses from six nations, as British-based riders scramble to get on the points leaderboard.

Mark Todd and Broadcast News, individual winners at the 1997 European Eventing Championships.
Todd, 51, rides the grey NZB Land Vision, a purchase this spring from Oliver Townend, newly crowned winner of The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the leader of the HSBC FEI Classics. Todd's partnership with NZB Land Vision has already gelled, the pair having won a national advanced class three weeks ago.

Several changes had been made to the cross-country course. "As ever, it will be a decent test which will take a bit of winning," said designer Mike Etherington-Smith. "The footing is perfect, but you need a fit horse to cope with the undulations and the time will be influential. More than anything, we're thrilled to have such a good entry, and we're especially looking forward to welcoming Mark Todd back after nine years."

Historically, victory at Chatsworth can be the forerunner to greater things. Townend, 26, won the FEI World Cup qualifier here last year on his Badminton horse, Flint Curtis, who was also 2nd in 2007.

Clayton Fredericks (AUS) won here in 2006 on Ben Along Time before going on to collect a World silver medal, and other former winners include such stars as Bettina Hoy (GER) on Ringwood Cockatoo and Pippa Funnell (GBR) on Primmore's Pride.

Mary King (GBR)'s victory on Call Again Cavalier at Chatsworth in 2007 was part of her European Championship preparation, at which she won team gold and individual silver medals.

This time she rides Imperial Cavalier, her potential British team horse who was 3rd at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials last year. This will be the horse's first outing since suffering from a virus which precluded him running at The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Olympic bronze medalists Kristina Cook (GBR) and Miners Frolic were hit by a similar virus, but they proved themselves fit and well following a promising run at a national advanced class two weeks ago, and are sure to be in the prizes at Chatsworth.

Other notable British entries include Ruth Edge on the former police horse PC Wilson, Rodney Powell, who has re-routed Zin Zan ll after his early refusal at Badminton, and young Laura Collett on Fernhill Sox, who completed the only double clear at last year's HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing Final at Deauville (FRA).

The six nations represented are: Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil. Ireland is here in particular force, headed by last year's Tattersalls winners, Geoff Curran, this time on The Jump Jet, while Australia's entry includes Paul Tapner on his top horse Inonothing.

Chatsworth has been running horse trials for more than 50 years, and the Cross-Country course, which undulates around the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's beautiful parkland, still makes use of the same historic features like Queen Mary's Bower and the Ice Pond.