The British Horseracing Authority has suspended eventing Olympic gold medalist Mark Todd for four months after a disciplinary hearing, but he may start training again today, April 14.
Todd came under fire after several videos surfaced of him repeatedly hitting a horse with a tree branch while teaching a clinic. He was issued an interim suspension by the BHA on Feb. 16, and according to Horse & Hound the BHA licensing committee met today to that evaluate that interim suspension. A private directions hearing, which sets out the parameters of the disciplinary panel hearing, also took place.
Todd accepted he broke a rule by engaging in “conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of horseracing” and was given a four-month suspension, with half of that deferred for two months. Since he has already served two months during his interim suspension, and the second two months of his suspension are deferred, he may resume training immediately. If Todd has no transgressions in the next two months, the deferment will disappear.
The British Horseracing Authority issued a statement after the independent disciplinary panel issued their findings: “We are grateful to the disciplinary panel for their time in considering this case and acknowledge the penalty handed down this afternoon. As Sir Mark has himself recognized in public statements since the video emerged and in accepting that he was in breach of Rule (J)19, his behavior on this occasion fell short of the standard expected of all licensed individuals and ran contrary to the values of care and respect for the horse that underpin British racing.”
Todd told Horse & Hound: “It’s been a very tough two months, particularly on my family and myself. I would also like to express huge thanks to my family and my staff, and especially the owners who have supported me and stayed with me through all this, and also to the many people who have sent messages and letters of support throughout the period,” he said.
“I am looking forward to doing what I enjoy doing best, caring for horses and getting out there and winning more races,” he added.