BADGERSTOWN resident Sir Mark Todd, one of the most experienced and successful eventers on the circuit, is still competitive at the highest level after starting out as part of New Zealand’s first three day eventing team in 1978, writes Nicki Strong.

Todd has three entries for Badminton and will be aiming for a fifth win at Gloucestershire’s prestigious four-star event in May.

Asked of his chances this year, he said: “I am only allowed to ride two, and I expect to be riding NZB Campino and Leonidas. Oloa will be making to the trip to Kentucky two weeks before Badminton and is entered at Badminton as a backup plan.

“My two rides are pretty evenly matched and both more than capable of being near the top! NZB Campino is back from a lay off and is feeling stronger and very well and Leonidas is fresh from some great placings at the end of last season.”

Leonidas has plenty of three-star experience but this represents a step up.

Todd however, has no concerns about his ability, saying: “He is more than ready for the challenge and is capable of performing well in all three phases. “He has plenty of three star mileage capable and I expect him to cope pretty well, I am looking forward to riding him.” Despite having competed at Badminton numerous times, Todd still gets a thrill going there.

He explained: “I will always be excited about Badminton – it is the biggest event in the world and one we all want to win. Driving through the gates to the awesome park still sets my nerves jangling.

“It is very exciting that we have eight horses from the yard aiming for the great event and all are capable of going well. And also I will be doing some work for my sponsors, Keyflow and the Mark Todd Collection during the week so it will be a busy time.”

Todd’s 2011 Badminton winning partner NZB Land Vision missed all of 2012 with injury. Todd has described him as arguably the best horse he’s ever sat on but another injury has now seen him withdrawn from Kentucky.

“NZB Land Vision has had a minor set-back this spring but we hope to have him back later this year,” said Todd, who is also looking to the future with his next crop.

“I am fortunate in having a top team of young horses right now and I am excited by them all. I have a great team of owners and we are all on the path to Rio. Sancero and Amazing Spy are going really well at the moment.”

Asked what he looks for in a horse that will make it a good four star contender, he simply said: “A big heart and desire to do it. Bravery and talent.”