By Jon Lees
GB: Legendary three-day eventer Sir Mark Todd broke new ground on Tuesday when he sent out his first winner as a racehorse trainer in Britain.
Double Olympic gold medallist Todd, a prolific winner in the equestrian field, was made to wait longer than he is used to before getting off the mark.
During his first season in Britain not one of his horses made the frame in 14 starts – but the drought ended at Leicester when four-year-old filly Petit Bay won a 1m2f Class 6 handicap on the evening card.
“It was long enough coming, but it was very satisfying,” said Todd. “I started off last year with a bunch of unproven two-year-olds and three-year-olds, most of which were not early-maturing types, so it was a matter of waiting.
“I’ve not had many runners this year but they are starting to show their potential now, which is good.”
Todd, 64, was a pioneer in eventing, winning gold for New Zealand at the Los Angeles (1994) and Seoul (1998) Olympic Games, capturing two world championships and recording multiple wins at the Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials. He was named Rider of the 20th Century by his peers and was knighted in 2013.
He retired in 2000 to turn to racehorse training in his native New Zealand winning the G1 New Zealand Oaks with Bramble Rose in 2003 and G1 Wellington Cup with Willy Smith in 2007.
He made an eventing comeback in 2008, competing in his seventh Olympics in 2016, before briefly taking charge of 2017 Derby fourth Eminent, whom he saddled to finish second in the G1 Ranvet Stakes in 2019.
He has since relocated to Britain to train from Badgerstown, in Foxhill near Swindon, the former base of successful jumps trainer Stan Mellor, with high hopes of reaching the same level.
“My goal is not to be winning races at an evening meeting at Leicester, but it was a nice place to start,” he said. “Everyone wants to win big races; that’s what it’s all about.
“I have some very good owners and some nicely bred horses so hopefully we can have some success. We have 16 horses and can take up to 40 but with lockdown I haven’t pushed it.
“I wanted my results to drive the success,” Todd added. “It’s all about taking it quietly and I never thought I was going to hit the big time straight off. Hopefully one of these horses here or one that comes to the yard will do what we want them to do.”