Olympic gold medalist equestrian athlete Sir Mark Todd is free to resume his coaching career after receiving a four-month suspension, with a two-month postponement, in a video that was widely shared on social media in February showing him hitting an eventing horse with a tree branch after he balked at jumping into a lake.
Todd admitted a breach of Rule J(19), which covers conduct detrimental to the reputation of racing, when the British Horseracing Authority’s independent disciplinary panel met again to consider the case on Thursday. His license was suspended by the British Horseracing Authority in mid-February, shortly after the video became public, and as his sanction was backdated to that time, his license has now been reinstated.
Relaying the outcome on Thursday, Brian Barker QC, the chairman of the three-person panel, said the BHA and Todd’s legal team had reached “common ground” regarding his sanction.
Barker added that after viewing unedited footage of the incident, both parties agreed that the horse “showed no signs of fear or distress at any time”, that his well-being “does not appear not have been compromised and that the BHA does not suggest that it was compromised”, and that Todd had been “calm in his attempt to encourage the horse to fall into the water, after first ensuring that the horse was able to do it”.
However, “the use of a light branch rather than a fabricated whip…was not appropriate”, and “the consequence of achieving a high level of success in sport is that the public is more easily able to identify an individual and their actions…can should be scrutinized by a wider audience.Todd took a trainer’s license in 2019 and saddled his first winner in June 2020.
Preview of Friday’s TV tips
The decision to transfer the All-Weather Championships card from Lingfield to Newcastle means the Tyrrhenian Sea returns to the track where he scored a midwinter hat-trick, and he’s likely to start at odds with his in-form coach Roger Varian in the Betway Easter Classic at the end of the card.
The four-year-old looked like one of the unluckiest losers of the all-time campaign when he was only fourth at Kempton Park last month, and is best judged on a very comfortable win from an opening score of 87 on his handicap debut in February.
His five rivals all come with more experience and Living Legend will be a danger if Joe Fanning gets loose in the lead, but Tyrrhenian Sea (4.45) is top of the standings and also has more room for improvement, so it will be hard to deny him a fourth win in five starts.
Newcastle 2.00 My Oberon was a respectable sixth on the Dubai Turf less than three weeks ago, but provided he’s above that he’s the clear choice of form in his win in a qualifier over Tapeta at Southwell in February.
Lingfield 2.20 Hard to rule out any of the twelve runners here with confidence, but Asadjumeirah has the best individual play of recent form – an easy win at Newcastle in February – and hasn’t done much wrong in his three starts since.
Newcastle 2.35 Ejtilaab had a career-best performance – in the 19th race of his career – at Kempton last month to earn a 105 handicap and anything near that level will make him tough to beat here.
Lingfield 2.55 Zameka made his debut in a hot run at Kempton in November and is a potential handicap of 81. He has made all his runs at seven furlongs so far, however, and at likely odds, Asser, a winner in solid time at Wolverhampton in December appeals more.
Newcastle 3.10 It’s probably best to focus on El Caballo and Tiber stream, who both track and travel proven and have a combined record of seven wins in eight starts. Marginal preference goes to the unbeaten second seed, who had more in hand than the half-length margin implied on his handicapped debut at Southwell last month.
Newcastle 3.45 Princess Highfield was beaten by three lengths in the Champions Sprint at Ascot in October, is in winning form on this trip and could take a slight lead as she is the sole regular favorite in the peloton.
Lingfield 4.00 Most of them claim their best form, but shoot to kill could be the price choice around 10-1. He scored a hat trick with a win over the course and distance in January and remains on an achievable mark.
Newcastle 4.15 sleeping lion appears to be the safest option in a tricky stayer contest, having followed a third-place finish at Listed level in France with a solid two-mile win last time out.