You’re never too old to say giddy-up to a horse – or to lead a political party

But first you must find a good horse.

There’s more media fascination with age this morning on news that Mark Todd has won the Badminton Horse Trials and set himself up for another crack at an Olympic medal.

The Herald raises it in the second paragraph of its report on the Kiwi horseman.

The legendary New Zealand horseman became Badminton’s oldest champion, aged 55, after an ice-cool clear round on NZB Land Vision shaded British Olympic hopefuls Piggy French and Mary King.

Remarkably, it was Land Vision’s debut at the elite four-star level, but Todd guided him home in masterful fashion to clinch his fourth Badminton crown, 31 years after the first.

Todd had taken an eight-year break from eventing after the 2000 Sydney Olympics to concentrate on training racehorses.

Naturally, he is chuffed about his successful comeback –

“This, for me, is huge,” said an elated Todd.

“To come back after a lay-off and to do it 31 years after my first Badminton win, it’s up there with the back-to-back Olympic golds in 1984 and 1988.

But the key to what went on at Badminton is contained here –

“I think I have got one of the best horses in the world, although 31 years’ Badminton experience comes in handy sometimes!”

Yep. A bloody good horse.

And lots of experience.

Alf notes that the third place-getter was no chicken at 49.

Here’s the thing: this is not rugby, where age and fitness are critically important.

With eventing it’s the age and fitness of the horse that matters. Who did all the hard work – the running and jumping and stuff – at Badminton?

A rider just sits up on top and does the steering.

It’s much the same in politics and Mark Todd’s success should be highly instructive for those who question Don Brash’s fitness for his comeback into politics.

It has heartened Alf, too, as he quietly harbours his own ambitions for bigger and better things at the ripe old age of sixty mumble mumble.

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