Sir Mark Todd Under Investigation From BHA After Viral Video - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Sir Mark Todd Under Investigation From BHA After Viral Video

Todd, pictured during a warm-up session at the 2014 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

Sir Mark Todd, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and registered racing trainer in Britain, is under investigation by racing officials there after a video on TikTok went viral over the weekend.

Todd, 65, is best known for his career as a professional eventer but stopped riding event horses professionally in 2019 to train racehorses and maintains a yard in Wiltshire. The video is purportedly from an eventing clinic held by Todd in 2020 and depicts Todd striking a horse with a sizable tree branch after the animal balks at a water obstacle. Todd hits the horse at least 10 times before the nervous horse finally enters the water.

Todd issued an apology after the video made the rounds on social media.

“I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip,” said Todd. “One of the main things I preach is about establishing a mutual respect between horse and rider and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results.

“I believe this is one of the main attributes along with a great empathy with animals that has enabled me to have a long and successful career in eventing. I am very disappointed in myself that I did not adhere to that in this case.”

The British Horseracing Authority released a statement Sunday indicating it is investigating.

“The footage seen this weekend of Sir Mark Todd hitting a horse with a branch has rightly caused anger and upset within the equestrian community and beyond,” read the statement. “His behaviour, for which he has apologised, fell a long way short of the standards of care we expect of licensed individuals and that we know is provided to the overwhelming majority of horses in training in Britain every day. The BHA is looking into the incident.”

The user who first published the video indicated that she is the rider of the horse depicted. After backlash, she removed the video from TikTok but later uploaded a longer version to Instagram with a statement, which read in part: “Whether I have rightly or wrongly addressed a situation on social media is not relevant to the fact that a top level athlete excessively and repeatedly hit my horse with a tree branch. I personally am not comfortable with how my horse was treated and at the time I was a 21 year old girl who was not brave enough to speak up about my concerns. Now if you are the age I was and would confidently speak up against a famous top level athlete with no reservations without any support then I commend you because you are braver than I am.”

Todd voluntarily stepped down from his role as a patron of World Horse Welfare as news accounts about the video hit mainstream press in Britain.

A native New Zealander, Todd won Olympic gold twice in eventing in the 1980s, and has a total of five Olympic medals. He has won the Badminton Horse Trials three times and Burghley five times. He retired from the upper levels of eventing once in 2000 before returning in 2008. In the interim, he trained racehorses in New Zealand, including Group 1 winners Bramble Rose and Willy Smith.

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