The greatest test of horsemanship on earth

Gaucho Derby Race Report

Gaucho Pioneers Race Report Tom Morgan – Race Director In 2009 we made the Mongol Derby. We had no idea before setting forth on the task that we were starting a new sport or that the race would grow into such a well recognised beast. And now after 11 years the Mongol Derby has a…

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Gaucho Derby Race Day 10:

Day 10 of the first edition of the Gaucho Derby began with a stunning sunrise over the Patagonian plains, and most of the riders were tacked up and ready to rumble as soon as racing opened at 07:30.   The Ledbury Ladies LR LD and sidekick RS hit the trail towards the finish, doing a…

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Gaucho Derby Race Day 9:

And just like that, we are at the end of the penultimate day of racing here in Patagonia. The riders are stopped tonight either at a rustic yet scenic puesto at VS8 or camped part way between VS8 and the finish line. Slow going on the trail between VS7 at La Maipu and the finish…

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Horse racing re-invented

Imagine yourself thundering deep into the wilds of Patagonia on horseback. You’ve got your steed and you’re navigating across some of the wildest terrain on Earth attempting to win one of the toughest and most unusual equine challenges in history.

After running the Mongol Derby for a decade we knew it was time to grow the new sport of ultra-endurance horse racing we had created. So we went in search of the next world beating adventure. We’ve not replicated The Mongol Derby with new scenery but designed a new race from the ground up – based on the landscape, culture, history and horses of Patagonia and the Gauchos. This is the greatest test of horsemanship and wilderness skills on Earth. This is the Gaucho Derby.

The race format

A 10 day 500km multi-horse adventure race.

The mind-bending terrain in Patagonia makes this a race quite unlike anything else on the planet. It won’t just test your skill on a horse, but push you to the limit of your navigation skills, your ability to handle the wilderness, and your physical endurance.

The Gaucho Derby is a multi horse race, but not in the same way as the Mongol Derby. The race is broken down into 40km or less vetting legs but you won’t be changing horse at every section. The high mountains are a test of skill, not flat out speed, so the horses won’t run out of steam. The flatter pampas sections will see you turning up the MPH to eat up the miles. For these sections you will be swapping to fresh horses more regularly.

One mistake navigating could cost you the race and wilderness skills will make all the difference as you’ll be camping out most nights. Racing hours are from 8am to 6pm, any penalties will be sat out in real time, and the winner will be the rider who crosses the line first.

The support

This might be some of the most remote terrain around but that doesn’t mean we won’t be monitoring the horses welfare at every stage. There’ll be vet checks every 40km, race marshals, and emergency and roaming vets to ensure that no rider puts their own competitiveness before the welfare of the animals. We would rather nobody wins than someone wins by pushing too hard. Riders seen making bad decisions, riding too fast across difficult terrain, or not presenting horses in great condition will get penalties or be disqualified. Full rules will be available to riders as we are developing them with our vet team now.

Riders will be tracked by satellite and we have a world class remote medical support team monitoring rider health and responding to emergencies.

Meet the Pioneers

The world’s first Gaucho Derby took place in March 2020.  Our pioneering riders hailed from all over the globe to take on one of the world’s toughest tests of survival, navigation and horsemanship.

The race did not fail to deliver on the promise of adventure, with riders battered by an unexpected snowstorm, awed by epic Andean vistas and enchanted by the Argentine horses.

These riders were the pioneering Gaucho Derbyists and their experience has helped to shape the race going forward.

The Gaucho

“He has taken his first lessons in riding before he is well able to walk” 

said David Christison in the 1882 Journal of the Anthropological Institute. Gauchos were nomadic, skilled horseman and cow herds who were reputed to be brave and somewhat unruly. Greatly admired and renowned in folklore and literature, they became an important part of the region’s cultural tradition and embodied a way of life that has dwindled as farming practices and land ownership changed.

Clothed in a poncho (which doubles as a saddle blanket and as sleeping gear), a large knife called a facón and loose trousers called bombachas held in place with a wide belt, they travelled far across the wild landscapes of South America.

Just as you’re about to.

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