August 12, 2018

Category: Mongol Derby

If yesterday (day 3) was the tipping point, today there was plenty of evidence that the race has changed from a light hearted chase at the front and a jolly at the back, to a deadly serious hunt for the front runners and some at the back of the field hanging on for dear life.

DH at the front ended the day still at the front of the race and just 1.5 kilometres short of urtuu 18, but with a 2 hour vet penalty and a late riding penalty.  She was vetted where she stopped by head vet Pat Sells – a rule change introduced this year to ensure that horses are checked wherever riders stop for the night when they stop.

DH trotting in to station 17 in the lead.

Today saw the retirement of one of the most popular riders this year, and the youngest – SN.  After racing for four days and the best part of 500 kilometres in head-to-toe borrowed kit (riding clothes, helmet, stirrups and leathers – the lot), rolling with his horse in the mud and charming all and sundry, we are very sad to report that SN has called it a day.  We are also sorry to report that FA has retired with a broken collarbone incurred in a bad fall yesterday.  RB & MB both took carry forwards and the concurrent three hour time penalties to catch up with the back of the field – MB unable to encourage his tired horse to go forwards, RB suffering from general wear and tear.  All of these competitors are serious riders – this race is no joke.

TTM, CON, CS, KOL & SN (from left to right)

To balance the bad news, however, it was great to see JL and GR not just getting through today, but riding really hard.  They were given a discretionary early start this morning from urtuu 8 which they took; both waved good bye to the Olziinyam family at 5:40 this morning and rode an impressive four urtuus today to catch the pack at urtuu 12 at 2000 tonight.  That is over 120 kilometres and roughly 14 hours in the saddle.  They may have suffered through the worst part of their race, or perhaps the big push today will be too much for tired bodies.  Remains to be seen.

HW is also moving surprisingly fast after a slow start; she was at the back of the pack after day 1, not much further forward after day 2 but yesterday she rode nearly five stations and today she did the same again.  She was slightly late into urtuu 16 so will sit a 36 minute time penalty tomorrow morning but the distance she is covering each day is very impressive and if she is able to sustain the pace she could still ride herself into contention.

Despite all the flux today, some features of this year’s race remain constant – JL & GR, NMS & JS, the “Archibells” (EA, JA, RA & HB), MT & JP, MM & TB and of course AC & AN – all still riding in their respective teams.

EA & JA on their way to 14.

Whether they turned up as teams (NMS & JS, the Archibells & AC/AN), or formed on the field (JL & GR, MT & JP, MM&TB) they are all testament to the ability of the derby to create enduring bonds, year after year.  Special mention must go to the astonishing teamwork (near) the front of the race displayed by AC & AN.  They are riding so well, so consistently and so well together.  Just not quite fast enough… what a race.

AC & AN in second place.


One and a half kilometres short of urtuu 18: DH

Urtuu 17: AC & AN

Urtuu 16, with the Naljir family: CH, EAL, AL, HW

Urtuu 15, with the Otgontugs: HB, RA, EA, JA, MT & JP

In between 14 & 15: KR, JM, CR, VA, EK

Urtuu 14, with the Buuvei family: TTM & KO

Urtuu 13, with the Bayarzengals: MG, NMS, JS

In between 12 & 13: MM & TB

Urtuu 12, with the Boldoos: JL, GR, KOL, CF, MGR, WG, DHE, SN, COPN, KG, CS, CB, PK, RH

Retired: MS, SA, FA, SN

MG gallops along, still having a blast