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Mark Todd First To Go In The Ring
Hong Kong
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Mark Todd (NZL) and Gandalf
Mark Todd, the 54-year old New Zealand star who came out of retirement last January in an attempt to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games, will realise his latest ambition when he is first into the arena tomorrow morning with Gandalf as the Dressage phase of the Eventing discipline gets underway at 6h30 local time.

The 11 participating teams have been drawn in the following order - New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Italy, USA, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Great Britain, Brazil and France - and Australia's Clayton Fredericks is also included in the first tranche of riders to come before Ground Jury members Christian Landolt, Martin Plewa and Marilyn Payne.

British pathfinders, Daisy Dick and Springalong, will lead the second group which concludes with Germany's Frank Ostholt and Mr Medicott at 8h37 while Australia's Lucinda Fredericks, a Dressage specialist and hotly-tipped for the individual title, is included amongst the third and final morning group along with Britain's William Fox-Pitt and Parkmore Ed and the French partnership of Didier Dhennin and Ismene du Temple.

Tomorrow night three further groups of horses and riders show their paces while on Sunday morning the dressage phase concludes, with Jean Renaud Adde and Haston D'Elpegere bringing down the curtain at 9h48.

Many of the horses looked on their toes and fighting fit today, and for both the equine and human Olympic athletes it will be a huge relief to get the action underway in the battle to decide the fate of those tantalising 2008 Olympic medals.

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