Sir Mark Todd will be able to resume training after being suspended for four months with a two-month reprieve at a hearing by an independent British Horseracing Authority Disciplinary Committee on Thursday.
The New Zealander, best known for his exploits as a two-time Olympic champion in three-day eventing, was charged in February with conduct that tarnished the reputation of racing (Rule J.19) after a video surfaced on social media, in whom he hit a horse with a branch in August 2020.
In the clip, Todd appears to be teaching a terrain training course with the 65-year-old, who was knighted for services to equestrian sport in 2013, in which a rider struggles to get a horse into the moat, swinging a branch and the horse several times hit the hindquarters.
He issued a statement apologizing for his actions, but Todd’s license was temporarily suspended by the BHA on February 16 pending an initial hearing on March 24, which was open to the media but due to legal issues was adjourned.
Todd’s case was then heard privately on Thursday morning, with the panel’s chairman, His Honor Brian Barker, announcing the Wiltshire handler’s suspension.
Barker stated that the BHA and Todd’s legal representatives had reached an “agreement” regarding his sanction.
“As the discussion progressed, it became apparent that there were some commonalities and potential for advancement,” Barker said.
“The parties withdrew for further consideration and, in due course, reached a possible inter-party plea for consideration by the panel.
“The basis of the Cause of Action, count one, is that although the matters concern eventing, as a result of Sir Mark’s licensing by the BHA his actions outside the immediate confines of horse racing may give rise to a breach of Rule J.19.
“Second, those who are more in the public eye must expect greater public scrutiny.
“Third, the parties agree on a few sub-points regarding the unedited footage.
“Sub-point one is that at no time did the horse show any signs of anxiety or stress, second, the horse’s welfare on the recordings does not appear to have been compromised and the BHA does not indicate that it was compromised.
“Point three is that Sir Mark calmly tries to get the horse to drop into the water, having first satisfied himself that the horse was capable and not afraid of it.
“Fourth: Witnesses to the incident raised no objections or complaints, Fifth: The use of a light branch instead of an artificial whip, such as the ‘ProCush’ variety used in horse racing and eventing, was inappropriate, particularly given the perceptions of its use in some quarters.
“Item six is the perceptual risks and it’s accepted to some degree that (Todd) will have tarnished the reputation of horse racing.
“Item seven is that it (the footage) has been widely reported and that reporting increases the risk of harm because it brings the footage to the attention of a larger audience.
“Point Eight accepts that a high level of success in sport means that the public can more easily identify an individual and consequently that their actions can be expected to be scrutinized by a wider audience. It’s accepted that individuals who benefit from success must also be aware of the additional responsibilities that success might bring.”
Barker referred to a number of testimonies from Todd’s owners and colleagues, but ultimately expressed that his actions were deemed unacceptable by the BHA.
“In the opinion of the panel, Sir Mark’s action could in no way be condoned and his notoriety and achievements have set a high standard of conduct,” Barker said.
“The appropriate sentence is four months’ probation, with two months’ deferral of two months.
“This means that the eight weeks he has already served is sufficient and that Sir Mark can operate under his license immediately and continue to do so provided that it disappears in the next two months to 14.”
As Todd has already served a two-month ban, he can now make entries immediately.
Todd earned a UK training license in 2019 following his illustrious eventing career and saddled his first of 14 winners to date in Petit Bay in June 2020, while last year’s King Edward VII Stakes runners-up Tasman Bay is believed to be his best horse at the track so far.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/sir-mark-todd-to-resume-training-career-after-receiving-backdated-four-month-ban-after-striking-horse-with-branch-41555036.html Sir Mark Todd is resuming training career after being handed a retroactive four-month ban after hitting a horse with a branch