Equestrian star Sir Mark Todd reflects on his career after announcing retirement

One of New Zealand's most acclaimed and successful sporting figures Sir Mark Todd has announced his time in the saddle is done.

After a career spanning four decades and seven Olympics, the 63-year-old has retired from eventing, saying it's time to move on

"Initially I thought I'd stop at the end of the year but having made that decision I decided I wanted to stop sooner than that," he told Newshub on Monday.

That's because it's time for a new focus. He has 10 racehorses in work, and something had to give.

"Having got back into the racing game recently I've found that I have wanted to do that more than the eventing," he said. 

Todd was rated as the rider of the 20th century by the International Equestrian Federation. He leaves the sport as one of the all-time greats.

"I achieved more than I could ever have dreamed and it's been a fantastic," said Todd.

In all Todd attended a record seven Olympics.  He has five Olympic medals.

Todd also won the Badminton horse trials four times, and Burghley 5.

Between the Sydney and Beijing Olympics he retired, only to make a comeback.

But this time it's for keeps. 

"I won't be coming back in six or seven years  - that is for sure, this is it I'm sure," he said.

He says there are no real regrets - except maybe one.

"I guess the only thing I missed out on was individual world championship title, went close a couple of times," said Todd.

There was some controversy along the way. In 2000 he was caught up in a well-documented cocaine scandal. 

"The stupid thing is I've had more publicity with one stupid incident than I have my whole career which to me is much more important," said Todd in 2000.

Now that his career is over Sir Mark is convinced he's made the right call.

"It was a hard decision to make, feel very sad it's come to an end but also a great sense of relief."

With that he walks away from a sport he's been at the forefront of since 1978.