Vale NZB Gandalf

24 December 2009

The New Zealand Bloodstock eventing team and Mark Todd are sad to report that their star performer NZB Gandalf has had to be put down as a result of a serious neurological disorder.

The 11 year old grey, Todd's 2008 Hong Kong Olympic mount, has recently suffered seizures which saw him become blind in his right eye and a danger to himself and his handlers.

Toddy-&-Gandalf

�Mark Todd and NZB Gandalf relaxing.

Mark Todd was naturally the person most upset by the loss. "It was a very hard decision to make but the wellbeing of the horse is what we have to consider foremost.

"It's also sad for New Zealand eventing to lose a horse of his calibre. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the best of him."

ToddM_HSBCwcf09124

�Mark Todd annd NZB Gandalf in action. Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI

In one of the most exciting and bold sporting decisions of the 21st Century, it was in November 2007 where the seeds of a comeback for the Rider of the 20th Century were planted, over a few glasses of wine with fellow eventing enthusiasts. Todd's Olympic bid saw him, 24 years after he won his first gold medal at Los Angeles, aim to return from an eight year retirement where he successfully turned his hand at training racehorses with the likes of NZ Oaks winner Bramble Rose and Wellington Cup winner Willy Smith.

Such a courageous decision requires a bold steed and, following a phone call from Equestrian Sports NZ selector, Mary Darby, saying she knew of just the horse, a trip to Auckland with wife Caroline was booked and a suitable horse in Gandalf found.

Born in 1998, the son of pinto sporthorse sire Pintado Desperado and thoroughbred mare Princess of Power (Galaxy Bound) was purchased as a yearling by Anglea Lloyd. Lloyd produced him to three star level with their biggest win being the 2007 Richfields International CCI***.

In nine short months, Todd and NZB Gandalf forged a strong partnership, not only qualifying for but being selected to represent New Zealand in the Hong Kong heat at the 29th Olympiad. No mean feat in the decathlon of horse sports, putting in a gallant performance to finish 17th out of 70 competitors.

Despite Gandalf's untimely demise, Todd will continue his bid to represent New Zealand at London 2012 and has a strong team of horses behind him including NZB Mouse, NZB Land Vision, NZB Grass Valley and recent purchase NZB Campino.

Todd is positive about the team's prospects for 2010.

"With the loss of NZB Gandalf I'll be looking to our other horses to step up. I'm hoping to start NZB Grass Valley at Badminton (30 April - 3 May) and NZB Land Vision at Samur (20 - 23 May). Either of these two could be chances of getting to the Alltech FEI World Games in Kentucky in October," he reported.