MARK Todd, the double Olympic champion who made a comeback in 2008 riding from Bruno Goyens de Heusch’s Wootton Bassett yard, has suffered a major setback.

NZB Gandalf, the 11-year-old grey gelding who was his comeback partner and took him to the Beijing Olympics, has had to be put down after developing a serious neurological disorder.

The horse, who was by a Pinto stallion out of a Thoroughbred mare, started to suffer from seizures which left him blind in his right eye and a danger to himself and others.

Todd, who turns 54 in March, admitted the decision has been a ‘very hard one’ that he’d had to make for the welfare of the horse and added that the eventing world had ‘not had the chance to see the best of Gandalf’.

The horse was Todd’s first major partner when he returned to the sport after an eight year break, and he would have been aimed at this year’s World Equestrian Games.

Instead Todd must now look to two more of his rides , NZB Grass Valley, who he is aiming at Badminton, and NZB Land Vision, a winner of the Somerley Park CIC** title last year, who is likely to go to the Saumur International in France in May. He believes either horse could have a chance of getting to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, due to be staged at Kentucky in October.

His string also includes NZB Mouse, who competed successfully at two star international level in 2009, and recent purchase NZB Campino.

RIDERS from the Tetbury and Malmesbury based Beaufort Hunt Pony Club proved the dominant force at the Avon Vale Pony Club’s busy show jumping competition, held at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.

Eight team titles were up for grabs and Beaufort claimed three of them, starting with a win in the opening class. The Club’s Jack Beattie, Thomas Kendell, Edward Kendell and Kirsty Poulton just got up to beat the Craven team, with Jack also taking the individual title.

A Beaufort team of Mary Grace Spencer, Olivia King, Emily Verschoyle, also the individual winner, and Benjamin Darling beat the Swindon based Ridgeway club to top spot in Class Three. The same Beaufort team made it a Club hat trick when they headed Class Four, where Benjamin Darling also won the individual award.

Craven Hunt Pony Club, based around Marlborough and on the Berkshire/ Oxfordshire borders, won two team titles. This included Class Eight set at 1.05m, the biggest course at the show, where Izzy Hocking, Emily Pope, Rosemary Bird and Ella Guest got up to beat the VWH team.