All Hail the Pioneers
February 5, 2020
Category: Gaucho Derby
What do you get when you cross over 20 international riders with Patagonia and a few hundred head of horses? You get the greatest test of horsemanship and wilderness skills on Earth. This is the inaugural edition of the Gaucho Derby, my friends, and these are the pioneers. Can they ride? Without a doubt. Can they survive? Time and mother nature will tell… ¡Vamanos!
Roberta MacLeod, Victoria, Australia:
A lifelong rider and racehorse trainer, Roberta is no stranger to the particular demands of backcountry riding. She has ridden in numerous countries around the world (Mongolia four times) and competed in the 2017 Mongol Derby, which has clearly whetted her appetite for more unique riding opportunities.
Warren Sutton, UK/Thailand:
A native of Australia and a veteran of the 2017 Mongol Derby, Warren’s extensive equestrian experience includes endurance riding, training horses in Australia and Thailand, conducting horsemanship clinics and seminars, and wrangling horses for the film industry. He’ll know how to look good for those cameras out on the trail…
Sponsors: @ariataus, @justcountryaustralia, @maxwin
Nichole Murray, Squamish BC, Canada:
Nichole is a woman of diverse talents: an experienced rider (trail riding, horse camping) and backcountry camper, she is eager to merge the two into one unique experience in Patagonia. Originally setting her sights on the Mongol Derby, she discovered the Gaucho Derby instead and confided “It feels like it was tailor made for me!”
Charity: Canadian Horse Rescue and Re-Homing Society
Chris Peterson, Calgary Alberta, Canada:
Hailing from ranch country in Alberta, Canada, Chris is a mixed animal veterinarian and experienced mountain guide, packer, endurance rider, horse powered logger, colt trainer, bareback rodeo cowboy, ranch cowboy, full time farrier, polocrosse player, and backcountry trail rider. He grew up riding in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia Canada, and has done horse and mule packing/guiding in western Canada and Wyoming USA. (We suspect he’s secretly a Gaucho already, just needs to trade in his cowboy hat for a boina and his Wranglers for bombachos.)
Sponsors: Rockyview Veterinary Service, Slingfin Tents, Mountain Equipment Co-op
Zsofia Homor, Hungary:
Zsofia has been riding since she was four, and does classical dressage and trail riding on a daily basis. She is also experienced in show jumping and eventing, and has exercised racehorses while in Ireland. Not one to sit still for long, she leapt off her last horse in the 2019 Mongol Derby and proceeded to cast her net for her next adventure. She currently operates as a horse trekking tour guide in Greece, and spends between four and six hours per day in the saddle, pack horse in tow, “under the boiling hot Greek sun” – a bit of a change from what is expected for weather in Patagonia, but as long as she’s used to suffering, she’ll be fine.
Dylan Delahunt, South Africa (currently living in USA):
Originally from South Africa, Dylan currently calls California home, where he resides with his partner Stevie. A man of many talents and comfortable in environments both terrestrial and aqueous, Dylan has supplied his equine expertise for the film and media industries, competed in the 2013 Mongol Derby, and was instrumental in founding The Adventurists’ Kraken Cup (“The World’s Greatest Sailing Race”). Dylan will be keeping pace with Stevie in the Gaucho Derby.
Sponsors: @ridingwarehouse, @redmondequine
Charles van Wyk, Western Cape, South Africa:
Charles, an accomplished endurance rider and trainer, has the distinct honour of being the joint winner of the very first Mongol Derby held in 2009. Is he gunning to double up his accolades? Can he do a repeat of that iconic race? No doubt Charles will be bringing his lengthy roster of experience to Patagonia with a mind to win, but says “I just hope to survive and drink a lot of Malbec.”
Hannah Bicket, Hampshire, UK:
Hannah has been riding since she was six years old and has competed in three-day eventing, has represented Great Britain in development squads, and has represented the South West at the national championships. She has been longing to be part of the Mongol Derby for a number of years, and was therefore thrilled to learn about the Gaucho Derby, which, as she points out, would “combine an adrenaline-fueled test of horsemanship with my long held desire to visit South America.” Win/win, as we like to say.
Louise Daly, Herefordshire, UK:
A lifelong rider, a show horse judge, and Master of the Ledbury hunt, Louise’s horsemanship skills are impeccable. She’s looking for a challenge and adventure of a rougher sort (along with her friend Laura Redvers, also competing) in the land of the Gaucho.
Shirley Haywood, North Yorkshire, UK:
An intrepid adventurer, Shirley has guided horse tours in Spain, Ecuador, and Argentina; has led horse groups in the Andes; participated in the 2016 Mongol Derby Delivery Run; ridden the Wild Coast of South Africa; climbed (on horseback) the Drakensberg mountains from South Africa into Lesotho; and herded cattle in the Canadian Rockies. She rides faithfully in the UK, hacking out regularly with the odd hair-raising point-to-point ride in the dark with a headtorch for illumination. Shirley is looking to do something “meaningful, wonderful, and extraordinary” – not like she’s had a lack of that, clearly, but nothing sharpens the Adventure IQ like 10 days on a horse in the wilds of Patagonia.
Clare King, Wiltshire, UK:
A few years have passed (six and a half, to be precise) since Clare competed in the 2013 edition of the Mongol Derby. When asked why she wants to ride in the Gaucho Derby, she replied “Six years, a husband, and two children after the Mongol Derby, I need this!” Welcome back to adventure, Clare.
Charity: Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group
Chris Maude, Gloucestershire, UK:
Having experienced the 2014 edition of the Mongol Derby and lived to tell the tale, Chris is ready for a challenge a la Gaucho Derby 2020. A former jockey, he’s been waiting for another adventure since 2014, saying “There is no better way to experience a country than on the back of a horse. It’s good for the soul.” Nuff said.
Laura Redvers, Gloucester, UK:
A lifelong eventer, point-to-pointer, and racehorse rider, Laura also hunts as much as possible with her friend Louise Daly. Having lived vicariously through her husband David’s 2016 Mongol Derby experience, Laura is keen to lay down some adventure tracks of her own. She will have her friend Louise along to share the ride, and share the glory of competing in this first edition of the Gaucho Derby.
Robert Skinner, Devon, UK:
When asked why he wanted to ride in the Gaucho Derby, Robert replied with a succinct “Why not?” Can’t argue with that. Robert has ridden “since a wee lad”, currently owns four racehorses which he rides on average three times per week for four or five hours at a time, is an amateur jockey riding point-to-points and has ridden the Grand Military at Sandown a whopping seven times. He has also ridden the Wessex Yeomanry several times (winning once), and competed in the 2014 Mongol Derby. Whew. As a physical training instructor with the Royal Marines for 20+ years he feels he will “hopefully be fit enough with a fair experience on how to survive!” Good-o Robert, survival is the name of the game for this one.
Annie Aul, Alabama USA:
Annie has had her eye on the Olympics since she was six years old, burning up the cross country courses on her pony. Since that tender age, she has put decades of eventing, coaching, and training experience under her belt, adding to the pony size of things with off-track thoroughbreds which she retrains and sells. She is still eyeing up the Olympics, but in the meantime will bring her horsemanship skills to the test in the Patagonian wilderness.
Courtney Kizer, Moab UT, USA:
This jumper turned endurance rider is a Mongol Derby 2016 veteran, a 2018 Race the Wild Coast competitor, and was on the shortlist for the 2017 US Endurance Team. Courtney has most recently been concentrating on breaking and training her own horses, with an eye to a future in FEI endurance. In her own words, she is “ready for another equine CHALLENGE!”
Stevie Delahunt, Somorset CA, USA:
Stevie, an accomplished multi-discipline rider with National All-Around AQHA, FEI reining, and Eventing titles to her credit, has also competed in the 2014 Mongol Derby, Race the Wild Coast in South Africa, and The Adventurists’ Kraken Cup boat race. She and her partner Dylan train and supply horses for prestigious endurance events such as the Tevis Cup. When Stevie is not otherwise occupied with horsey pursuits, she works with actors and horses in stunt and media, runs half marathons, and bakes pastry in her spare time – a pretty handy skill for out there in the wilderness, no? She’ll be competing in the Gaucho Derby alongside Dylan.
Sponsors: @ridingwarehouse, @redmondequine
Corie Downey, Whitehall MT USA:
Corie brings a plethora of riding experience to the table, in disciplines ranging from western ranch and rodeo riding, to fox hunting, cross-country jumping, skijoring, and her most recent love – side saddle racing up in Alberta Canada. Her motivation? “I like to push myself to expand my skill set and my riding abilities” she says. Depending on the weather, a bit of skijoring experience could come in handy down in the Patagonian mountains, who knows?
Sponsors: Equis Feed, IconoClast, Stone Glacier, Steele Halters, Flatland Forge
Marie Griffis, Manhattan MT, USA:
Marie can’t remember the first time she sat on a horse, but it’s safe to say that she’s been riding for most of her life. She currently owns five horses which she rides as frequently as possible, fox hunts in Montana, and runs an annual pack trip (22 years and counting) into the mountains with her friends. She’s proficient with the diamond hitch, the box hitch, and slings a mean pack, so she’s the person to hang with if you want some of that packing magic to rub off on you. Did we mention that she competed in the 2016 Mongol Derby, and has since been back to Mongolia and visited the land of the reindeer? With this much adventure cred, it’s no wonder she declared that to not ride in the 2020 Gaucho Derby “would just be cruel.”
Sponsor: Stone Glacier, Steele Halters
Linda Vegher, Boston MA USA:
Fresh off of the 2019 edition of the Mongol Derby and an “AMAZING experience” (her words), Linda decided life as usual would simply not do and promptly applied for the Gaucho Derby. Linda grew up eventing, but is also experienced in steeplechase / flat track exercise-riding, foxhunting, jumpers, hunters, cutting, mounted archery, and polo (not to mention Mongolian horse wrangling.) She distinguished herself in Mongolia with her dedication to camping out, so should have no trouble whatsoever with the – erhm – rustic nature of this race.
Julie Youngblood, Ketchum ID, USA:
A firefighter by trade, Julie is also no stranger to backcountry pack trips and wrangling cattle in her home state of Idaho. A Mongol Derby 2012 veteran, she has travelled and lived in Argentina but is keen to see the more remote regions, something that Patagonia has in spades.
Lisa Youngwerth, Colorado Springs CO, USA:
With the 2014 Mongol Derby under her belt, Lisa is looking for her next life-changing event. She grew up riding in the mountains of Colorado, and confided “Technical terrain is right up my alley. I have experience camping with horses and altitude is rarely a problem.” Sounds like the Gaucho Derby should be a good fit for ya Lisa…