Thursday, August 16, 2018

World's Top Endurance Horse Tests Positivie to Banned Substance - Full Article

August 15, 2018
by: Pippa Cuckson

The world’s top-ranked endurance horse Shaddad will be unavailable for the UAE’s WEG squad after testing positive to the banned substance testosterone at a UK ride last month.

Shaddad, who is owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s premier MRM barn, was sampled after placing second in a 160km race at Euston Park – the Dubai squad’s summer competition venue – on July 13th.

Shaddad’s 21-year-old rider Saeed Mohd Khalifa Al Mehairi is also provisionally suspended till FEI Tribunal renders its decision, as is the veteran Maktoum barn trainer Ismail Mohammed. The horse is suspended for the standard two months, meaning he must miss Tryon.

Shaddad, a 14-year-old Anglo Arab, was imported by Dubai from France in 2011 and has an incredible record, including a win and a fourth in consecutive years in the gruelling 160km Presidents Cup, Abu Dhabi. He has enjoyed 11 top three placings in his last 18 FEI starts with Al Mehairi and other riders and was a member of the UAE world championship team in 2016.

Al Mehairi participated in the WEG test ride at Tryon with another horse in April...

Read more here:

Mongolia: Jockey produces ride of her life to win world's longest horse race

Picture: Laurence Squires and The Adventurists - Full Article

15 August 2018
By James Roberts

Annabel Neasham, from Bicester, finished joint winner of the 1000km Mongol Derby alongside Australian rider Adrian Corby yesterday morning.

The pair took seven days to complete the gruelling endurance race, riding more than 20 semi-wild horses across challenging terrains from giant sand dunes to freezing mountain passes.

Winning the event is an achievement in itself, but Ms Neasham did so after having Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery and admitted crossing the line was a welcome relief.

She said: "People say when they finish, they could easily do another 1,000km.

"Well, I think I’m good with this..."

Read more here:

WEG 2018: Cutting a swath - Full Article

By Catherine Hunter
August 11 2018

Crews working to clear WEG endurance trails

GREEN CREEK — Amber Hall owns A & M Site Services in Columbus. She, along with her husband, Milford and their crews, are responsible for making the trials safe and making sure they meet all the Fédération Equestre Internationale rules and regulations.

It has to be 30 feet wide and 14 feet high, completely clear of rocks, holes and tree limbs for 100 miles. Crews are working seven days a week to get the endurance trails ready for the World Equestrian Games in September.

“They are so conscientious about the safety of the horses,” Milford said, referring to the officials at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

Amber said, in addition to the horses’ safety, it is also very important that the trails are cleared to prevent the horses from picking up any ticks. Because ticks can carry diseases, the horses importing from other countries are being carefully protected from any and all possibilities of picking up a disease that might prevent them from being able to re-enter their home country after the games.

Amber explained that regulations require special footing 12 feet wide, which is the area the horses will actually travel on. “This is called the tread,” she said...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

World Number One Endurance Horse Tests Positive at British Ride - Full Article

Wednesday 15 August - 10h50 | Lulu Kyriacou

An endurance horse, currently ranked number one in the world, has tested positive for a banned substance at Euston Park, the premier British endurance venue.

Shaddad (previously known as QUERSICK NIELLANS) is a 14 year old bay gelding who was competing in the CEI3* 160km ride at Euston Park in Suffolk on July 13th where he finished second and was therefore routinely tested. Ridden by Saeed Mohd Khalifa AL MEHAIRI who has already won on the horse this season at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, over a similar distance, the horse is trained by Ismail Mohd who has had the horse in his charge for several periods since 2015. The rider and trainer are also suspended.

​The combination were likley to be selected for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) team for the coming World Equestrian Games (WEG) after a string of good places at endurance' highest level.

​Ismail Mohd was previously a competitor himself but has been training since 2014 and is responsible for a number of horses according to the FEI database including three recent registration in the UK, apparently specifically to compete at the UK Endurance Festival.

​The dope test fail was for testosterone, considered performance enhancing, and is a major blow for both UAE and Euston Park credibility. The ruling Maktoum family have significant endurance interests and despite concerns over a potential conflict with the FEI after various other doping, welfare and rule breaking scandals within endurance, they are the title sponsors for WEG endurance under their Meydan banner...

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Mongol Derby Race Report: Day 7: 2 Aussies Tie for Win - Full Story

August 15, 2018
There we have it – the team of Annabel Neasham & Adrian Corboy have gone and done it: they’re joint winners of the tenth Mongol Derby. Adrian Corboy, leaving Australia for the first time in his life, had three weeks to lose nine kilos and do some packing when he stepped in for Ciaron Maher at the last minute. Neither he nor Annabel are endurance riders; Adrian backs and breaks racehorses, while Annabel is a CCI* level eventer from the UK who now works for Ciaron Maher racing in Australia. And yet they beat a field of experienced riders which included DH – a very experienced endurance rider from the USA who was here to compete in her third derby. How did they do it?

When the gun went, DH [Devan Horn] shot to the front as expected. As in previous years she raced hard, choosing horses that looked fast but also looked as if they might have fire in their bellies. AC and AN took a different approach. They had a strategy from the start, Adrian said, and despite being under a lot of pressure, first catching DH and then after DH was awarded the pivotal vet penalty, maintaining their lead. As ever, horse selection was key, as Annabel pointed out at the finish line:

“I think horse selection was a big thing – we got good at picking horses. You’ve got to pick a horse with a bit of length to it, a deep girth and a good shoulder that shows a few ribs. A lot of people said before we left that we should skip the racing ponies. They’re the skinny ones. We had a go with a couple of those but they’re on the steal all the time and they burn too much petrol early on. So it was about picking the herder’s own horse that they use to go and check the herd because they’re fit...”

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Bermuda: Brangman looking to go the distance - Full Article

Stephen Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Published Aug 14, 2018

When Marvin Brangman first heard about endurance riding, he thought it was a sport for “crazy” people.

Brangman, who has a background in dressage and showjumping, has always been passionate about horses, but had little interest in spending long hours in the saddle negotiating all types of terrain.

After much persuading from a friend who competes in the discipline, Brangman agreed to a 25-mile race in 2015 — a gentle distance by endurance standards — and immediately fell in love with it.

He won his second ride of 75 miles in Alabama several months later and from there started the two-year process to qualify for the World Equestrian Games...

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Australia: Local Rider Rises to Ultimate Challenge - Full Story

Riding For Livin’
Aug 14, 2018

Last year when the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its data into the leading cause of death in 2016, suicide was the number one cause of death among people aged 15 to 44 years.

When she was just 24 years old, Canberra local, Courtney Chapman could have become part of that statistic.

“In 2015 I faced one of my hardest battles yet after struggling with depression for many years. I was a broken, fragile girl in the clutches of an all-consuming depressive episode. My autoimmune disease, Crohn’s, was rampaging my body, and I had been hospitalised seven times in the past six months. I was in a turbulent and toxic relationship and was the subject of horrific online bullying from members of the endurance horse riding community I loved so much,” Courtney said.”The weight of it all crushed me.

“That night, 28 June 2015, I almost successfully took my own life. If it were not for the fast thinking actions of some friends that were carefully watching over me, I would not be here today. I was thankfully reached in time and was able to be resuscitated, albeit with a touch and go stint in ICU for a few days. It took a little while for me to realise that I was not meant to leave the earth that day.”

Courtney is now using her life experience and challenges to break the stigma around mental health, and in sharing her personal experience hopes that others will feel comfortable in doing the same.

An endurance rider, who when she was just a 10-year-old used her love of horses to escape the clutches of a difficult life at home, will now be turning that passion into the biggest challenge of her life...

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Australia's Maher workers take honours in Mongol Derby - Full Article


Wednesday 15 August 2018, 5:07pm

Two integral members of Ciaron Maher Racing have taken the honours in an endurance horse race, the Mongol Derby.

Adrian Corboy, a trainer in his own right, and Annabel Neasham, part of the communications team, completed the gruelling 1000km journey in just over seven days, crossing the line on Wednesday afternoon, AEST.

Maher was to have ridden in the endurance test, but withdrew after breaking his leg in a fall from Jameka in the weeks leading up to the event.

The Caulfield-based horseman was as pleased for Corboy and Neasham just as if he had prepared a Group One winner.

"It was a great team effort," Maher said...


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Great Britain: Outcry over late changes to Euston Park endurance schedule - Full Article

Horse & Hound
13:26 - 13 August, 2018

Riders whose arrangements are now in chaos have blasted Euston Park Endurance for the short notice re-vamp of its H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UK Endurance Festival next weekend (17-19 August).

On 7 August organisers announced that the major CEI3* 160km class had switched from Friday to Saturday, causing problems for those expecting to ride both days, while the CEI2* 120km class had been cancelled. Many are now trying to rearrange travel and accommodation for themselves and their crews, while others hoping to switch to another class are racing to obtain £200 FEI horses passports – a process which normally takes three weeks.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Mongol Derby Race Report – Day 4 - Full Recap

August 12, 2018

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.

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...

Read more here:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mongol Derby: Devan Horn Leads at About Halfway Point; Maddie Smith Out

August 12 2018

With roughly half the distance of the 10th annual 1000-km Mongol Derby distance completed for ongoing competitors, returning Mongol Derby veteran, Texan Devan Horn, had the lead at horse station 18. The horse she was riding failed the vet check (apparently failed to pulse down within 30 minutes), and she was out a "smidge" past racing hours, and as per vetting and rest-hour rules, she racked up a 2 hour 8 minute penalty which she'll sit at out HS 18, which should tighten up the leading pack.

This is Devan's third time to ride the Derby. In 2013 she crossed the finish line first, but ended up as runner-up when her horse didn't pulse down in time at the finish, and her incurred vet penalty allowed the second finisher to win. She returned for the 2015 race, but fell ill during it, and had to drop out. "She is she is riding as if there is unfinished business. Which of course there is," tweeted @Mongolderbylive.

With weather wreaking havoc on the ride management - a swollen river prevents them from driving across it and keeping up with the leading riders - the intrepid riders and horses continue onward.

The radical weather delayed the start of the Mongol Derby by a day. @mongolderbylive tweeted on August 11, "Even the more casual observers will have spotted that the riders have seen hail, flooding, storms, blazing sun and today it's cold & wet. One of the more challenging aspects of the race."

Californian Maddie Smith had a bad fall on Day 2, dislocating her shoulder and cracking her ribs. She was hoping to beat the Mongol Derby this year, after having had a fall in the 2016 Derby, where she sustained a concussion and could not continue. Maddie is staying on in Mongolia, and will be at the finish line, waiting to cheer in her comrades on the steppe.

44 riders from Australia, Botswana, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, New Zealand, UK, Uruguay, South Africa, and the USA started in this year's edition.

More live updates at:

Local horsewoman in race to raise funds for Gobi Desert Cup participation - Full Article & Video

Lorie Duff explains her participation in the Gobi Desert Cup in the YouTube video above.
AUGUST 9, 2018

EASTERN ONTARIO — Horse whisperer Lorie Duff plans to saddle up in the Gobi desert later this month — but the area resident requires some more fundraising help to make her Mongolian dream a reality.

Duff has made a name for herself as a gentle horse trainer whose skills have been showcased at the Calgary Stampede and the RCMP Musical Ride, alongside her trusty steed, Titan. The long-time equine enthusiast says she still needs assistance with airfare for the trip to the desert on the other side of the world, where she’s due to race 480 km in the Gobi Desert Cup, Aug. 22-31.

“My deadline is approaching fast ! I’m the only Canadian representing Canada and simply can’t go without your support, please help,” says the Newfoundland-born 44-year-old, still retaining the twangy accent of her maritime heritage.

“Can you please help and share? My deadline is coming and I really want to get there...”

Read more here:

Hot weather during Brazilian winter an extra challenge - Full Article

12th August 2018
Race Report made with the assistance of Cidinha Franzão

Haras Albar, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Friday 27 and Saturday 28 July 2018. After winning the CEI3* 160km race in Jaguariúna with Bondgirl Endurance, which assured him to be one of the four members of the Brazilian Team for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, André Vidiz, this time riding Salaan de Maire, easily wins the CEI2* 120km Senior.

This race was divided into five stages of 32.5 km, 26.5 km, 24 km, 21 km and 16 km of the National Endurance Competition and IV Stage of the São Paulo Endurance Championship.
Although it is winter time, which is a very dry season in São Paulo, it was very hot during the two race days with temperatures of 28 degrees which felt like 30 degrees. The hot weather made the 116 participants using a lot of technique to face a trail with many ascents and descents, passes through cane fields and a lot of rocks. It is impossible to have a flat trail in Sao Paulo, so the riders and horses are well trained for this type of terrain...

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

2018 Mongol Derby Underway

Follow the Mongol Derby

August 8 2018

Sort of… @mongolderbylive tweeted a race update at 4 AM USA Mountain time: "technical issues, floods and storms continue… race launch delated until tomorrow. The riders have another day to gird their loins, steel their nerves etc."

43 riders are scheduled to start the 1000-km station-to-station race across the steppes of Mongolia. The unmarked course consists of 25 stations at 40-km intervals where the riders switch horses.

The 10th Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest and toughest horse race, kicks off today. The 2018 race features 18 men and 26 women from 12 countries, riding 1,000 km across Mongolia on semi-wild horses. Two Canadians will compete this year.

Three previous competitors are back for more in 2018. The other 41 Mongol Derby virgins feature our usual wonderful mix of professional riders and happy horsemen. We’ve also got an eclectic mix of accountants (not so handy), nurses and vets (much handier) as well as a translator (but not in Mongolian), a fishing captain (useful in a landlocked country), and someone who works pack camels. Yet to meet our semi-wild Mongolian horses, they could look like a walk in the desert…

2018 Mongol Derby Competitors


Ed Archibald, 31, Scone, NSW, Australia
Grew up on a cattle and polo farm in Australia, now living and working in Sydney. This is his first endurance ride so he figured he may as well take on the hardest challenge he could find! Is looking “to push myself to my limits and see it as an opportunity to explore Mongolia is the most unique way.” Is competing with his two brothers and cousin and raising money for Multiple Sclerosis research, which their uncle suffers from.

Jack Archibald, 29, Scone, Australia
Has ridden his whole life. Lives on a farm, professional polo player for 10 years who has captained the national team. Now takes on this with his brothers and cousin.

Robert Archibald, 34, Scone, Australia
Was a professional polo player from 2001 to 2015 travelling all over the world, as well as captain of the Australian Polo Team. Then decided that he wanted to train racehorses so is currently working in the racing industry for various different trainers to gain experience and help him prepare for when he starts on his own. Competing with his brothers and cousin for MS.

Eliza Allan, 35, Denmark, Western Australia
Her non-horsey family finally relented to get her a horse when she was 12 and spent every weekend thereafter riding the thousands of acres of bush that bordered their farm from dawn to dusk – completely alone with her horse and in “various states of rapture”. Since then, hasn’t been able to shake the urge to just ‘ride and ride and just keep going’, which is why the Derby appeals. Is a single-Mum and full-time teacher “terrified of going fast” who spent 2016 traveling Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail with her daughter, horse and donkeys.

Chase Becker, 21, Yandina Creek, Australia
Competed in the Mongol Derby in 2016 but snapped a tendon in her ankle so had to pull out at the half way point. Is back for redemption “and this time I’ll finish it”. Is a pre-med studying Nursing and Midwifery. Will be accompanied by her horse instructor, Rod (who has been teaching her since she was 10) and Dad, Mike, (who finished the Derby in 2016).

Mike Becker, 55, Yandina Creek Australia
Having completed the Derby in 2016 is back again with Chase and Rod “to show them the way!!” Is a helicopter pilot and Company director of an aerospace group and loves a bit of adventure with the family. The Derby is their 2018 adventure and having done it before, is “really looking forward to coming back and riding across the open steppe in an environment of freedom and excitement.”

Henry Bell, 33, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Was bought up with horses on the family farm, and plays polo. Never thought he would compete in an endurance style race so “can’t wait to have a go at the longest one in the world”. Competing with his cousins and raising money for MS

Adrian, Corboy – a late entrant from Australia, backs horses all day and will ride with Annabel Neasham.

Kathy Gabriel, 27, Benambra, Victoria, Australia
Has been in the saddle before she could walk and horses have always been her passion. Spent years working in northern Australia on cattle stations chasing cows on horses. Now manages a beef property in the high country. Has decided to do the derby for so many reasons but “mostly for the ride…. for everything the derby is about, the adventure, the challenge, meeting new people, meeting and learning off the Mongolian herders about their extraordinary horses.”

William Gunning, 34, Sydney, Australia
Proud father of two, married to the woman of his dreams and works in the family business as a Commercial Real Estate Agent. Started riding as a child at his grandparents farm and then started entering Junior Rodeo competitions where his passion for horses grew. Is looking forward to the challenge ahead and getting himself fit as well as saddle fit for the upcoming event. Is “a bit of a joker and wants to make sure everyone is having a good time and just hope I can have the same effect on the horses.” He’ll learn!!

Rodney (Rod) Herman, 70, Maleny, Australia
Grew up with a love for horses and has worked most of his adult life in the Equestrian Industry, including working for the famous King Ranch in Australia. Has been a horse rancher/rider, a horse trainer, EA riding Coach and accredited farrier. Is “looking forward to riding across the Steppe with my good friends Mike and Chase Becker as part of the team,The Three Amigos.”

Karrin O’Loughlin, 32, Toowoomba, Australia
Grew up on her family cattle station near Nebo in North Queensland. Was riding horses before she could walk as is the scenario for most county kids on the land. Lived and worked on the property up until mid 20s before moving to town and developing a major passion for travel. After returning from a summer living and working in Canada as a trail riding guide in the Rockies, was looking for my next big adventure! “Couldn’t think of a better way to see and experience Mongolia than on the back of a horse (hopefully not on my back in the dirt looking up)” and with the added bonus of raising funds for RACQ LifeFlight Australia

Annabel Neasham, Australia
Competed to CCI** in eventing in the UK. Moved to Oz in 2016 where now works as Racing Manager to Ciaron Maher. Still rides trackwork in the mornings and has been lucky enough to swing her leg over a few Group One winners.

Cecilia Stone, 50, New South Wales, Australia
A “horse tragic” who grew up riding, did the usual pony club stuff, horse adventures with teen friends and cattle work at home on the farm. Had a break from horses and found them again while NOT looking to get back into them. After a long stint of being a Carer started looking for an adventure and found the Mongol Derby. Is now “off the couch, at the gym, on the horse and focused on being ready for the delights that shall appear.”


Michael Turner, 39, Maun, Botswana (Citizen of both UK / USA)
Leads private safaris all over the African continent. Is riding in the 2018 Derby, “simply for the adventure as it just sounds too fantastic to pass up.” (Maybe he needs to read a bit of the previous press coverage!)


Tamara Beckstead, 54, Rockwood, Canada
A small animal vet who feels most alive atop a horse. Eventing has earned Tamara the nickname “Teflon Girl” by her coach. Hunting satisfies her thrill of speed; Dressage, her desire for beauty and perfection; and Side Saddle got her and her horse, Modesty, onto a movie set. She looks forward to the Derby providing an escape from her current reality and was inspired to take this adventure by the Doris Day song “Enjoy Yourself” (look it up and sing along!).

Kelsey Riley, 29, Lexington, KY, USA (Canadian)
Having not ridden a horse for two years prior to applying, Kelsey decided the Mongol Derby would be a good excuse to get back in the saddle (no, seriously). After she was, shockingly, actually accepted to participate, Kelsey has discovered that (thankfully) she has not forgotten how to ride. A rigorous training schedule should hopefully see her ship-shape in August. She is an editor of the Thoroughbred Daily News, and is riding to raise money for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chances Program at the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, KY.


Charmaine McQuaid /O’Neill, 43, Kilkenny, Ireland (but lives in Leicestershire, UK)
Born and bred into racing from Whytemount Stud in Ireland. Was Champion Irish lady Jockey 1997/98 having ridden winners for trainers such as Aidan O’Brien, Paddy Mullins and Dessie Hughes.
Currently works as a feed rep for Gain Horse Feeds in the UK accompanied every day by her beagle, Walnut. Is he coming to Mongolia?

John Daniel Moore, 40, Kildare, Ireland
A Bloodstock agent who is following in the footsteps of fellow Irishman and 2014 runner-up, Richie Killoran – “I have tried tinder in my search for a wife and Richie Killoran said, ‘try this’ – it worked for him!”


Rouke Bloemsma, 52, The Netherlands
An architect who has ridden since she was eight – competing in dressage, jumping and eventing. Has two Icelandic horses. Has been training for over a year for this and lost 22kg in 18 months…

Hinke van der Werf, 28, Groningen, The Netherlands
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Friesland, the Northern province of the Netherlands famous for their fields full of Friesian cows and horses. To her father’s regret, she picked an Arabian horse instead of a Friesian horse. While working as a nurse and a sociologist, traveled a lot. “People now think that I’m settled down back in the North with my desk job as a lecturer and researcher at the academy for nurses. But I’m always preparing for a new adventure. Why the Mongol derby? I saw the adventurists’ rickshaw race in India. I don’t do too well with traffic so I thought I’d try my luck in Mongolia.”


Saif Noon, 18, Lahore, Pakistan
Currently a university student studying at The Royal Agricultural University in the UK (known as the ‘Gin and Tonic’ course we believe!). Has been riding for nearly 12 years. Grew up in Lahore, where learnt and competed in polo. Has also been riding in Nurpur and some mountain ranges in the Punjab. Wants to do the Derby because “am also looking forward to the mental and physical challenge of riding for as long as I can.”


Manuel Espregueira Mendes, 28, Lisbon, Portugal
Translator by qualification, rider by passion, with a foot in interior design, Manuel started show jumping at age nine. He believes that it is in hardship and conquering limits that great personalities are forged, hence his decision to take on the Derby – that or, “because he started drooling over it as soon as he laid eyes on this crazy adventure!” Raising Money for the Portuguese fire victims.


Eion Kemp, 44, Matamata, New Zealand
What started as a way to pay his way through university lead to a passion. Twenty five years later owning one of the largest Thoroughbred Breaking in and Breeze up farms in the heart of the Waikato, the interest in horses still runs strong. “I have followed the Derby for a few years with interest and always wanted to give it a go and now is the time to swap my thoroughbreds and experience the Mongol Ponies. I love a challenge , something new, different and out of my comfort zone and the Mongol Derby offers all that and more”. Oh yes, it does…

Charlotte Howard, 25, Glentui New Zealand
Currently work running the family biz but usually an entrepreneur always starting new things. Madly in love with horses, fast cars, high heels and all things sexy and adventurous. Ridden horses all her life from eventing to high country and most things in between and is riding in the derby as a tribute to her mum “who was always the biggest supporter of my mad ideas and adventures”.

Trudi Thomas-Morton, 60, Levin New Zealand
Bred with the equine addiction gene and has had a horse or 5 for 30+ years. Extreme trekking, competitive trail riding and endurance with horses and, for a bit of adventure, working pack camels in the Australian desert for ecological and archaeological expeditions – these things help keep her sane – just. Rest of the time works in the city, runs her wee lifestyle block breeding a cow or horse or two and pampers her large menagerie. The Derby is her biggest challenge yet – “A challenge of mind and body, the adrenaline surge from the unknown and unexpected, a collage of experiences for the soul.”


Gemma Ractliffe, 37, Surrey, UK
An accountant as her day job Gemma had been riding since she can remember. The majority of her riding experience comes from her time at the Horse Rangers Association, where she started riding at the age of 10 and now teaches children every weekend. “Having never owned my own horse or done any kind of competitive riding this is a huge challenge, but what would be the point of going through life without a challenge? I love to travel and what better way to see a country than to actually spend time with the people whilst carrying out a sport you love. Oh and as an aside I’d like to see if the 1960s purple beetle my sister did the Mongol Rally in 10 years ago is still making its way round Ulaanbaatar…”


Valeria Ariza, 40, Montevideo, Uruguay
The first ‘proud South American lady’ to take part in the Mongol Derby. Jumping and dressage are her origins and she works as a full-time trainer and coach. Is “in on anything involving horses from ladies polo to horse related conferences”. Her true passion is travelling with and on horses, and her midlife mantra is “going where the horses take me”. Rode in Mongolia in 2004, a lifechanging trip, and “always wondered if I could ever go back”.


Carol Federighi, 58, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA
Government lawyer, endurance rider, Ride and Tie competitor (whatever that is?!). Always wondered if she could ride the day after a 100-mile ride, now she will find out. Convinced a friend to sign up, will also find out how far the friendship goes …. “Looking forward to the wide-open spaces, the gutsy horses, and living by my wits rather than my phone”.

Heather ‘Flash’ Accardo, 37, Prairieville, Louisiana, USA
“My mom always made sure I had a horse to ride while growing up – for that I am eternally grateful.” Flash grew up showing Arabs in every event possible and now endurance is her love. Her motto in life is: “If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way, otherwise you’ll make an excuse.” She has been blogging her preparations on Facebook at Flash’s Journey To The Derby and is raising money for her charity Heros and Horses.

Michael Gascon, 28, Poplarville, Mississippi, USA
Fifth generation horse trainer who has dedicated his life to the way of the horse. “Ready to go on an adventure for the ages!!”

Matthew Graham, 57, Washington, USA
Mechanical engineer, yoga teacher, freelance outdoors and adventure writer. Hang glider pilot, paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, rock climber, skier, sailor, paddler and cyclist. Started riding horses 25 years ago because it was his wife’s favourite sport. They rode together in fox chases, played polo together for over a decade and took equestrian vacations throughout Europe. He then tragically lost her in a freak hang gliding accident two years ago. Is “competing in this race in honour of her and her love of horses and her spirit of adventure.”

Dori Hertel, 48, Kingwood, Texas, USA
Vet for 23 years. Done mainly what she calls “pleasure adventure” riding including endurance and polo. Owns and breeds quarter horses.

Devan Horn, 24, Houston, Texas, USA
A third time Derby participant, she was runner-up (after crossing the line first in 2013) and then fell ill during the 2015 race. Still the fastest ever competitor, this will be her 5th ride over 500 miles.

Pamela Karner, 64, Ithaca, New York, USA
Recently retired large animal veterinarian. Has practiced for over 30 years in Ithaca, New York. Is an endurance rider, veterinarian and ride manager in both the US and more recently in Australia as well. “I have felt drawn to Mongolia since I was a little girl AND I thrive on challenges! I can’t think of a better way to satisfy both of those than racing across the steppes. I wake up every morning ridiculously excited and equally frightened by the upcoming race. I don’t feel 64 but ask me that after the race!”

Jeanette Lazzaro, 29, Virginia Beach, USA
Started riding at six months old on the back of her Mum’s Arabian and grew up riding in Pony Club and Eventing. As an “adult” with a “real job”, worked in aviation, but in her spare time rescued, healed, broke, and trained a quarter horse. Work took her to live in Japan last year and is training for Mongolia by begging and borrowing any and every horse available. “I’m a Derby first-timer and as well as mastering the use of anti-chafing anything in a goal to finish the race with my bum intact!”

Couple Joel Scholz, 44, and Nicolette Merle-Smith, 30, are first time Derby racers. Joel, a Massachusetts native, USAF veteran, and VP of sales for a mobile medical technology company, and Nicolette, a Virginia native and professional 3-day event rider, live in Ocala, Florida training up their young homebred sport horses and riding out with hounds on a regular basis all over the country. Due to be married this fall, Nicolette and Joel are dedicating their entire wedding registry to Cool Earth in support of land conservation. As outdoor enthusiasts, they look forward to the challenge of the Derby and all of its demanding elements. Nicolette’s grandmother told them, “If you can survive the Mongol Derby together, then you must deserve each other.”

Kelsey Opstad, 27, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
A commercial fishing captain and paramedic who grew up showing dressage, but has since found a love of travel and other sports (backcountry snowboarding, speedflying, snowmachining, paragliding, biking, climbing). The Derby is “an opportunity for me to immerse myself in horseback riding once again, and a challenge to combine riding skills with those of navigation and survival. I wanted a reason to bring horses back into my life in a big way, and this was the one which excited me most.”

Jocelyn Pierce, 31, Rockville, Maryland, U.S.
Outdoor adventure freak, three-day eventer and an editor at Practical Horseman magazine. Jocelyn believes her horse-crazy childhood of pool-noodle jousting, crude attempts at skijoring and ill-fated trail rides in search of ice cream cones have aptly prepared her for partnering with the Mongolian horse. She is eager to immerse herself in one of the last surviving nomadic cultures, but a misguided assurance that her time in the concrete jungle as a U.S. letter carrier will parallel Genghis Khan’s “pony express” route may prove problematic.

Christine Roberts, 29, Dallas, Pennsylvania, USA
Growing up with three brothers on a farm in Colorado did not cultivate a weak person. Instead it created an independent, tough-as-nails woman who enjoys martial arts, competitive shooting, travel, and horses. Christine has been riding since in the womb and has never been without a horse. She grew up riding in Competitive Trail and made the switch to Endurance Racing in 2007. Easy going yet highly competitive, she cannot wait to breathe in the Mongolian air on the back of a galloping horse taking on the Derby!

Madison Smith, 28, San Francisco, USA
Hunter jumper rider taking her second whack at the Derby after a bump on the head and some breaks in 2016. When she’s not on a horse, this California girl is running a small business from her apartment floor and usually running late for her next flight. Madison is proud to once again be raising money for the Homeless Prenatal Program!


Samantha Anderson, 45, Durban, South Africa
A self-confessed “complete nutter” who rides a 1909 Humber (ancient motorcycle with no gears and peddles) 650kms in two days in an annual event called the DJ (Durban to Johannesburg). Has always wanted to ride the Mongol Derby but never thought she would be chosen because “I can ride horses, but nothing remotely close to the scale of the Derby. Since I got the invite I have been training like mad, broken two ribs and met the most amazing people who have lent me their horses and taught me so much. No one actually believes me when I tell them what I am going to do. Hee ha here I come!”

Angus Lowe, 24, Fourways, Johannesburg, SA
Is currently a student with the University of Pretoria. Loves polo and horses and rides and plays as much as possible. Wants to ride in the Derby to combine his love of the outdoors, riding and adventure. “As an avid historian the idea of traveling along Genghis Khans old postal route was also a major draw for me to the Derby.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Prairieville dental hygienist ready to trek through Asia in world's wildest, longest horse race - Full Article

AUG 6, 2018

When the world’s wildest, longest horse race begins a world away on Wednesday, Prairieville will be represented at the starting line.

And, if Heather "Flash" Accardo isn’t first across the finish line several days from now, it won’t be for lack of trying.

Accardo, a dental hygienist by day, horsewoman by weekend, is one of 40 competitors in the 2018 Mongol Derby, which sets a route through Mongolia’s rugged, lightly populated terrain. The Asian country's terrain, organizers say, is likely to include mountain passes, valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands, sandy semiarid dunes, rolling hills, dry riverbeds and open steppes or grassy plains.

The 1,000-kilometer course (roughly 621 miles), which was kept secret from riders until days ago, is strenuous enough that just completing it is considered an accomplishment; riders have nine days to complete it. But Accardo is aiming higher...

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Tryon: Horse Play - Full Article

August 6, 2018 by Timothy Burkhardt

Next month, one of the biggest events in equine sports is being held in Tryon. The World Equestrian Games, slated for Sept. 11-23, are considered second only to the Olympics in importance. The games have taken place every four years since 1990.

All told, 849 athletes and 839 horses from 72 different nations are expected to take part in both team and individual challenges. And with nearly 500,000 spectators expected to attend over the course of two weeks, the event has spurred massive construction projects in Tryon, including multiple new stadiums to accommodate the crowds.

“We are in the process of completing three new active field-of-play arenas,” says Carly Weilminster, assistant director of marketing for the Tryon International Equestrian Center. “One will be the main 20,000-seat U.S. Trust Arena, which will host eventing, show jumping and dressage.” The driving stadium, meanwhile, will seat 3,000 spectators, and the indoor arena, which has been enclosed to host vaulting and reining, will have a 5,000-seat capacity. “We are also expanding the seating in the George H. Morris Arena at Tryon Stadium to seat nearly 8,000,” she explains.

But while the equestrian center needed to gear up to accommodate more humans, there was already plenty of room for the horses. “We have not had to build or construct any additional stabling,” notes Weilminster...

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Monday, August 06, 2018

Endurance GB Review Findings

August 6 2018

Endurance GB has completed both an internal process and external legal review following the withdrawal of GBR athlete Charlotte Chadwick from the FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders. 
The findings of this review have confirmed that, in cases such as this, primary responsibility for eligibility is placed upon the rider; and Charlotte Chadwick’s entry to the European Championships for Young Riders was accepted and facilitated on the basis she was qualified to compete as per FEI rules. EGB does not therefore bear liability for the events surrounding Charlotte’s withdrawal. 
The review has also found that no fault lies with the Technical Stewards at any of the events that Charlotte or her mother participated in during the lead up to the European Championships.
However, the review has also identified that improvements can be made to our systems and procedures to ensure they are helpful and minimise the risks of situations like this happening again. In the interests of responsible custodianship of our sport and our members, the organisation today outlines new measures to support our commitment to ensuring the highest standards of vigilance and to remove ambiguity with immediate effect. These include:
· Robust eligibility checks to be made mandatory as part of the selection process of international team members by the Team Chef or appropriate member of the Team Management, monitored consistently from selection through to competition. 
· The introduction of a new automated rest period audit process for all ride results, which will enable potential breaches of rest periods to be identified.
· Expanding the results spreadsheets used by Technical Stewards to automatically include the current FEI registration status of the horse, which will reduce the risk of a FEI horse being allocated an EGB rest period.
It is not possible at this time to automatically calculate rest periods at the entry stage, and the onus remains on the riders to ensure that they are eligible to compete. 
EGB will also take steps to underline that riders are responsible for compliance with all relevant regulations by implementing a new disclaimer on all ride entries, to indicate understanding of rules regarding eligibility, and to accept EGB, BEF or FEI regulations.
Whilst we reiterate that EGB is not liable for the unfortunate set of circumstances that prompted the introduction of these new measures, we nonetheless welcome the opportunity to review processes across the sport. It is our firm belief that this swift and affirmative response will lead to improved standards for all.
We would like to underscore our clear understanding that Charlotte, and her family, hold both horse welfare and the rules of Endurance with the upmost of importance and rules were broken completely unintentionally. The EGB Board is immensely proud of all our Young Riders and everything they have achieved and we are hugely disappointed for Charlie, who is a talented ambassador for our sport.

Great Britain: The Sun Shines over International and National Riders at the Third Euston Park Ride - Full Article

August 6, 2018
Editorial | Equnews

The third ride in the Euston Park Season saw both national and international riders enjoying the blue skies and beautiful forests and tracks of Euston Park.

Four international rides took place including the CEI2* 120km on Saturday 4th August and the CEI1* 80 km, CEIYJ2* 120km and CEI3* 160km on Sunday 5th, attracting riders from across 12 nations. Although the weather was warm across the weekend, the courses rode well.

Euston Park now looks forward to the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UK Endurance Festival which will take place from the 16th – 19th August.

Event Director, Nick Brooks-Ward – ‘It was a very good weekend of Endurance with over 50 international riders and nearly 50 national riders. In what has now become the hottest summer in living memory, I am delighted to say that all horses and riders came home. All our attention now focuses on the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UK Endurance Festival which Euston Park will welcome in 10 days’ time. This will be the largest Endurance festival ever staged in Great Britain, culminating in the Nations Cup of Great Britain, the CEI2*, held on Saturday 18th August. Our very grateful thanks to our land owners, officials and course marshals who work tirelessly to make this weekend a success...

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

Mongolia: Ride of a lifetime - Full Article

August 5 2018

You couldn't drag Christine Roberts away from wild horses. She is traveling thousands of miles to be with them, to compete in a world-famous endurance race she hopes to win and to experience something unlike anything she's ever done before.

Roberts will celebrate her 30th birthday by riding semi-wild horses more than 600 miles through the Mongolian steppe and competing in what the Guinness Book of World Records crowned the world's longest horse race.

Roberts, who first started riding horses as a little girl on her parents' farm north of Fruita, is an endurance racer who snagged one of the coveted spots in the Mongol Derby, a unique race chronicled in a documentary called "All the Wild Horses."

On Saturday, her birthday, she already will be on her fourth day of the race, which will take her and the other riders on an unmarked course across Mongolia, the largest landlocked country in the world. The race is a test of horsemanship, athleticism, endurance, navigation and sheer nerve. The course remains secret each year until the race begins, but each year's race pays tribute to Genghis Khan's network of horse messengers who crisscrossed his kingdom...

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Anglesea women Tania Orlov and Ruth Benney prepare for Gobi Desert Cup - Full Article

Jaimee Wilkens, Geelong Advertiser
August 2, 2018 8:25pm

TWO Anglesea mums are giddying up for a trip of a lifetime, travelling to Mongolia this month for a six-day endurance horse race through the Gobi Desert.

The Gobi Desert Cup is a 480km ride through some of the most unforgiving terrain on the planet, requiring riders to complete an 80km course each day.

It will test both the mental and physical strength of the riders, with only 20 people from across the globe entering each year.

But confessed horse-loving mothers Tania Orlov and Ruth Benney think they’re up for the challenge...

Read more here:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Shooting the Messenger – A Setback for Fair Play - Full Article

Cuckson Report | August 2, 2018

This blog might appear to be about a domestic issue this side of the pond, but there are important lessons for all. Please bear with, for there’s essential background reading first.

First, in endurance, mandatory rest periods are applied to horses after a ride, for obvious welfare reasons. The duration relates to the distance, with days added if you’re vetted out.

In 2016, FEI endurance also introduced a “de-merit” system, with penalty points for issues that prove the most problematic. Accumulating 100 points in 12 months means an immediate two-month ban for the rider with no appeal.

Metabolic elimination = 10 penalty points.

Essential invasive treatment by official vet = 25pts

Catastrophic [fatal equine] Injury during ride = 80pts

Competing horse during mandatory rest; failure to present to final vet; incorrect behaviour = 100pts each, plus automatic two-months rider suspension.

So, as you can see, the FEI puts competing a “resting” horse in its tier of most serious rule-breaches.

Secondly, a bit about “Clean Endurance” – a global alliance of folks with a common interest in salvaging their sport from doping, cheating and fatalities. I first encountered them in early 2015, about two years after I began writing about the UAE et al in-depth. I’d discovered the UAE was faking entire rides on an industrial scale. Some of the Clean volunteers helped me unravel how the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) had forged results (and qualifications) of over 500 horses in 13 rides so convincingly that no-one noticed for years.

The FEI’s Equine Community Integrity Unit readily took up our research in its subsequent official investigation, and two senior EEF executives were eventually suspended (though other implicated officials went unpunished).

Since then, Clean Endurance has regularly engaged with FEI HQ in Lausanne, notably flagging up the many anomalies hiding in plain sight on the FEI database; this includes identifying the horses starting in rides they are not qualified for, which still occurs a lot, even on the basis of un-faked results...

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Adventure of a lifetime awaits Tompkins County woman at Mongol Derby - Full Article

Kevin Stevens, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Aug. 2, 2018

Twelve days in Asian wilderness with temperatures ranging from frigid to sultry, aiming to cover 75 miles per day for nine in succession aboard semi-wild horses, replenishing on mutton, dumplings and fermented mare’s milk before sacking out on the base of a nomad’s yurt.

Belongings for the entirety of the expedition are restricted to 11 pounds, roughly the weight of a house cat. The likelihood of separation from those items stowed so meticulously in a bag affixed to the saddle is substantial, as the oft-skittish animals providing transportation rather fancy bucking free of human cargo and tearing off for parts unknown.

Diarrhea is as much a probability as drenching rain, throbbing limbs and utter exhaustion following each 13½-hour riding session.

Pam Karner will experience the above, by choice, and for the mere pittance of a $13,000 entry fee.

And damned if she isn’t pumped!...

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World's Top Endurance Horse Tests Positivie to Banned Substance - Full Article August 15, 2018 by: Pippa Cuckson The world’s top-ranked endurance horse Shaddad will be unavailable f...