Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mongolia: Mongol Derby seeks jockeys

11 February 2010

The Mongol Derby, the longest horse race in the world still has a few places left for its August 2010 race and is seeking jockeys or ex jockeys who might like to take part.

The Mongol Derby team have also just announced an innovative Veterinary Training Programme that aims to leave a lasting equine legacy in Mongolia.

More than 20 local vets will be trained to become part of the international team of equine experts that will ensure the welfare of the 1000 semi-wild horses taking part in the race across the Mongolian steppe.

Led by four star accredited FEI vet Jenny Weston, the specialist training will also leave a legacy that will benefit other events and races in a country renowned for its love of horses.

"The training will cover exercise physiology and the types of conditions that you see in horses involved in endurance riding and the long-distance horse racing that is a part of Mongolian culture," explains Jenny. "This will benefit not only the horses involved in the Mongol Derby but also the many thousands involved in the annual Nadaam festival."

The training is part of a comprehensive horse welfare program including pre-race training for the riders led by Maggie Pattinson, Chef d'Equipe of the British Home International Endurance Team.

The race format is based on Chinngis Khaan's legendary postal system which could relay messages thousands of miles in a matter of days. Horse stations manned by nomadic families are established at intervals of 40km or less along the course and riders change horses and undergo veterinary inspections at each one.

The Mongol Derby is a joint venture led by British company The Adventurists with Mongolia based Tengri Group and backed by the Mongolian government's Ministry of Agriculture who acclaim the Mongolian Derby as "having great potential to develop our country".

Dr. Orgil, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Unit and the Chief Equine Vet in Mongolia said the 2009 Mongol Derby was a "huge success...a brand new sport tourism variety".

Applications are open now to adventurous riders from around the world. More information about the world's longest and toughest horse and how to apply can be found on the official website:

Fast Facts about the Mongol Derby

* 25 riders started the 2009 race, 23 finished and they raised £71,000 for official charity Mercy Corps' projects in Mongolia
* Aged from 21 to 65, the 2009 riders came from 8 different countries including Argentina, Sweden and South Africa. 12 of the riders were female
* Less than 2% of the 700 horses that took part in 2009 required treatment which was all minor first aid
* The riders averaged 100 km per day at about 10 km/hr in 2009
* On cooler days some riders managed about 140 km in a day on the better days, at an average speed of 14 km/hr
* Horses outnumber the population of Mongolia by 7 to 1!
* Marco Polo wrote that in the 13th century 300,000 horses were posted at horse stations across the great Khaan's empire

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