Sporting Achievement of the Year Finalists: Mark Todd

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Mark Todd. Photo / Supplied
Mark Todd. Photo / Supplied

There are certain things 55-year-olds shouldn't be able to do.

One of them would be winning Badminton, the gruelling three-day event in the bucolic surrounds of Gloucestershire.

But in April he did it for the fourth time in his illustrious career, guiding Land Vision through the dressage, around the cross country and over the showjumping disciplines.

Todd's victory came 31 years after his first triumph, on the back of Southern Comfort III and 15 years after he won it for the third time, that time riding Bertie Blunt.

There's a line that is often trotted out when analysing Todd's horsemanship that still resonates.

John Francome, one of Britain's great National Hunt jockeys, was watching Todd negotiate a treacherous cross-country course at Badminton in the early 90s, when he opined: "You could put this guy on a donkey and he'd still win."

Few who watched him at Badminton this year would argue, though Todd was quick to point out that Land Vision was no ass.

"In the end it came down to horse-power, and I've obviously got a good one here," he said. "Charisma [upon whom he won two Olympic gold medals] will always be the most special horse, but this one has no weak links."

Todd's ability to perform under pressure was tested at Badminton, where he began the showjumping with a 0.2 of a point advantage over German Marina Kohncke and with nine riders covered by just one rail.

Todd got a clear round, despite wobbling the first rail.

"We gave that first fence a little nudge and that woke both of us up," he said in the aftermath of his victory.

"It is incredibly special, right up there with the back-to-back Olympic golds. When I came back to the sport [in 2008] it was to see if I could get back to top level.

"My aim was to win a big one, and probably in particular Badminton ... To actually achieve it is quite remarkable."

Todd will head to the London Olympics as a very real medal prospect. Dylan Cleaver

- NZ Herald

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