Sir Mark Todd was humbled and appreciative of the many who had travelled from far and wide to celebrate his tremendous eventing career at EQUITANA Auckland’s A Night to Remember.
“It was just wonderful to see everyone,” said Sir Mark who was joined on stage by former team mates, horse owners and others who had played an important part in a career that had spanned four decades. “It is very humbling to have everyone say such nice things.”
Those who couldn’t make it sent videos, including top British riders Mary King and William Fox-Pitt as well as top New Zealand eventers Tim and Jonelle Price and others. Joining him on the stage were former team mates Blyth Tait, Tinks Pottinger, Jock Paget, Clarke Johnstone and others. Helen Gilbert, who groomed back to back Olympic gold medal winning Charisma for six years, travelled all the way from the UK for the special evening – much to Sir Mark’s delight.
“It was very special,” said Helen. “Charisma was my baby – he was just the most incredible little horse.”
Eventing star presenter Sir Mark will still be at EQUITANA through to Sunday giving presentations and education sessions, as will his fellow stars, Australian dressage maestro Tristan Tucker, American horseman Al Dunning and New Zealand Olympic showjumper Bruce Goodin.
The four are also the judges in the IRT The Way of The Horse, the ultimate horsemanship where four invited trainers take unhandled three-year-olds from wild to willing in just an hour a day over the four days.
In the Norwood Grand Prix dressage, Cooper Oborn (Palmerston North) and Aphrodite headed home a seven strong field with a very smooth 65.4% test. The full time rider was rapt. “I didn’t expect to win at all,” said Cooper. “She is really good at piaffe and passage, and finds that so easy. Today there were lots of areas that need to be consolidated. She tries so hard.”
The 12-year-old was completely unfazed by the atmosphere in the indoor and Cooper is now looking forward to the freestyle on Friday evening. Today was their biggest win to date. “She thinks everyone is here to so see her.”
Renee Faulkner made a clean sweep of the Veterinary Associates Express Eventing, winning the open and taking the quinella in the future stars class. “I came out and had a course error on my first horse Rubin and was not expecting that,” said Renee.
“There was a lot to take in so I was really grateful to have my second ride – I felt a lot more comfortable in the ring and knew my way around. It was the same rush you get on the cross country but a bit shorter. It definitely rode tough.” She had her sights set on going home with ribbons.
“I definitely wanted to be first and second with my two rides,” she said. “I was determined to come out and prove myself. I came out with that mindset and it worked.”
EQUITANA continues tomorrow with a huge focus on dressage, with Tristan Tucker’s masterclass, as well as the second round of TWOTH, some showjumping and lots of education sessions.
Norwood Dressage Grand Prix: Cooper Oborn (Palmerston North) Aphrodite 65.4% 1, Victoria Wall (Hamilton) Letty Lei EDH 64.89% 2, Jody Hartstone (Raglan) Ali Baba 63.81% 3, Paula Stuart (Hamilton) Aztec Lad 63.48% 4, Toni Louisson (Feilding) Back on Track Astute 60.83% 5, Niki Osborne (Kerikeri) Alacatraz 59.67% 6.
Veterinary Associates Future Stars (under 25) Express Eventing: Renee Faulkner (Papakura) Mi Focus 1, Renee Faulkner (Papakura) Rubinstar HH 2, Abbey (Te Kauwhata) Rockin It 3, Lucy Turner (Christchurch) Astek Victor 4. Open Express Eventing: Renee Faulkner (Papakura) Mi Focus 45.71 penalty points 1, Chloe Phillips-Harris (Paihia) Cor Jet 48.46 penalty points 2, Simon Tainsh (Ohaupo) LV Gee Wizz 49.29 penalty points 3, Renee Faulkner (Papakura) Rubinstar HH 57 penalty points 4, Abbey Thompson (Te Kauwhata) Rockin It 66.59% 5, Lucy Turner (Christchurch) Rockin It penalty points 75.14 penalty points 6.