EVENTING LEGEND Mark Todd won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on Monday for the fourth time in his long and honourable career.

Todd and NZB Land Vision earned a finishing score of 43.6 penalties despite the horse being a relatively inexperienced 10-year-old.

Just a single pole separated the top 12 going into the show jumping phase and Mark kept his nerve with a clear round to take the top spot 31 years after he first won Badminton aboard Southern Comfort.

The double Olympic champion from New Zealand proved that age is just a number as he was the oldest competitor at 55 – and the oldest winner in the history of Badminton Horse Trials.

He first competed at Badminton in 1980 and has completed the event 19 times since.

The top three placings all went to eventing stalwarts who showed that experience and familiarity with the event was a winning combination.

‘Piggy’ French came second with Jakata on 45.2 penalties and eventing favourite Mary King grasped third, just 0.6 points behind Piggy, on Imperial Cavalier.

Mary was delighted with her placing and also revealed a secret about her higher placed team-mate.

“I’m particularly pleased to be sitting here next to Piggy as she used to write me fan letters as a little girl and I would reply to her,” said King. “Now maybe it’s me who should be writing her letters.”

Wiltshire’s Laura Collett also had cause for celebration after coming eighth at her first ever Badminton on Rayef, a horse she entered in his first Pre-Novice class just five years ago.

The 21-year-old Laura exceeded all expectations with a superb dressage score of 36.5 to lead the field at that stage. The pair finished on 49.3 penalties.

Laura said: “It’s just starting to sink in that my special boy was eighth at Badminton.

“Now I can’t stop crying. I owe it all to him.”

Despite the celebrations there were several nasty falls which held up the cross country event.

Eleven riders took a tumble during the gruelling second phase.

Ireland’s Elizabeth Power was airlifted to Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital where she was kept under observation after a heavy fall from Kilpatrick River at the Sunken Lane. She was knocked out but regained consciousness and her condition is stable.

Ingrid Klimke of Germany suffered a bad fall after hitting an upright gate on the way into the Huntsmans Close complex and Irish eventer Camilla Spiers fell at the Lake Complex causing a long hold-up.

She was taken by ambulance to Frenchay with a suspected broken collarbone.

America’s Karen O’Connor had a slip with her 2008 Olympic horse Mandiba, who fell from the Outlander Bank and broke a rib.

Soaring temperatures and hard ground made for difficult going and many horses disliked the conditions.

However, the event was more popular than ever with fans, the Bank Holiday format meaning Sunday's cross country discipline was overrun with spectators.