Mongol Derby RACE REPORT: Day 8 – Sunday 11th August

Headlines

  • Clare Twemlow and Kirsten Melis claim joint third place

  • Chloe Phillips-Harris claims 5th, sealing top 5 spots for the ladies

  • 2nd placed Devan Horn’s final horse treated and fully recovered following finish line vet inspection penalty

  • Did the top 5 riders finish faster than last year’s winner professional jockey Donie Fahy? To be confirmed, but it’s been a fast one.
Clare Twemlow and Kirsten Melis at the finishing line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013.

Clare Twemlow and Kirsten Melis at the finishing line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013.

Clare Twemlow and Kirsten Melis have been riding together since the 9th horse station and today there was “no conversation needed” to decide to cross the line together and claim joint third place on the 8th day of the Derby.

About an hour and a half later Chloe Phillips-Harris claimed a well deserved 5th place confirming the all female top 5.

Chloe Phillips-Harris crosses the line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Chloe Phillips-Harris crosses the line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Richard Dunwoody, race photojournalist and former champion jockey said “they’ve really been through the mill, not been well, lost horses but did a great job. The same with Chloe – she was in top form today. I couldn’t believe how fresh she finished. She looked like she’d been out for a Sunday stroll!

“Absolutely fantastic performance from all three of them – the girls have certainly showed the boys how to do it this year.

“Their horsemanship has been incredible and I suppose it’s been so competitive up the front they’ve all pushed each other. All 5 of them have finished well inside the time of last year’s race winner Donie Fahy who is a professional jockey. I think we worked out they’ve also had three and a half hours less riding time because we now finish at 8.30 rather than 9 for safety reasons. We think it could be almost a day quicker than last year – although the course is different each time that certainly proves something.

“We’re expecting more riders to finish at lunchtime tomorrow so we’ll travel back and see them in over the last couple of legs. It’s stunning scenery around here, we’re very close to the 200km of sand dunes that run through central Mongolia so I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more of it tomorrow.”

Kirsten Melis and Clare Twemlow at the end of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Kirsten Melis and Clare Twemlow at the end of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Speaking at the finish line the three riders who crossed the line were asked how they were feeling, what some of the highs and lows were, whether they sustained any falls or injuries and how they would sum up their Mongol Derby experience:

Kirsten Melis

“I was actually really excited and full of energy when I got in and quite happy too! It was all about completing it but it’s always nice if you come close to the leaders and usually a little bit more of a buzz. I just loved all the views and riding some really nice horses that loved doing what you wanted to do. And this amazing scenery and big herds of horses. This morning we saw a massive herd of around 200 horses just crossing the path in front of us. That was a tear jerker; an amazing moment.

“I was never actually thrown off, the first [fall] was when my horse stumbled over one of those little lumps, and the second time was when my horse stumbled downhill over rocks and the third time I was actually stood next to my horse and it got spooked and I got dragged for about 30 metres, but that’s about it, I didn’t really fall off so I was lucky.

“[It was tough] when you’re in so much pain and you try to load up on painkillers to keep going, but other than that sometimes navigating can be really frustrating when it’s really wet and you get yourself in the wrong position.

“It was an amazing adventure in a different culture – a completely different kettle of fish.”

Kirsten Melis and Clare Twemlow after crossing the line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Kirsten Melis and Clare Twemlow after crossing the line of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Clare Twemlow

“I’m a bit of a mess but I’m over the moon! We pushed so hard to get to this point and I’m proud of myself. It’s just amazing, I’m really happy. But as soon as you get to the finish line your body just shuts down

“I did get bucked off and lose my horse, my saddle, my bridle, my kit and my sleeping bag two days ago and I haven’t had any kit since then. It took off and as I tried to gather up my reins (there’s a long rein we hold as well) I think I dropped it so it started whipping round its back end. It started bucking like crazy and I came off and crashed to the ground so I’ve got a lovely big bruise on my face and a sore back. Then the horse disappeared into the horizon, it just set off, miles and miles away with all my kit.

“That was more of an inconvenience than anything but you know there’s been so many highs, they outweigh all the low points.

“This morning on the last leg we just had to stop because there was a herd of 200 we guessed of every different colour and stallions, mares and foals, being herded across the hillside right beside us. An incredible sight. We’ve been through some amazing scenery.

“The second high point is the horses. There’s been a few less enthusiastic ones but the vast majority, they just go for 40km. They are phenomenal animals and the Mongolian hospitality has been phenomenal too – I’ve really enjoyed it.

“[The Mongol Derby is] hell and amazing all at once. That’s what I said at the beginning it was going to be and that’s exactly what it is.”

Chloe Phillips-Harris

“I am feeling pretty happy, I was just getting the hang of riding all those kilometres every day and the race is over.

“I’m happy because I got really sick and put on a drip and I still managed to keep up with the other riders in front of me who didn’t get as sick or put on a drip. I don’t know quite how I did it but I managed to get through that somehow.

“[The Prometheus Medics] were top notch, absolutely awesome because I got sick and I still rode another 80 km after that so I was pretty delirious and they got there about 9pm and put me on a drip. By the next morning I could ride on so they did a top notch job.

Chloe Phillips-Harris on the last leg of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

Chloe Phillips-Harris on the last leg of the Mongol Derby, 11th Aug 2013

“I rode the last 600km by myself … I was riding with Lara [when] I got ill, and I was galloping along vomiting off the side of my horse and she helped me get to the next station. I told her to go for it because I thought she had a good chance of winning it, which she did, and then after that I was on my own.

“It was a really attractive look but I was pretty determined, whether that’s stupid I’m not sure but it’s one of my funniest memories of the Derby so I’ll always remember being sick off the side of a galloping horse.

“I didn’t come off, I did ride one ‘bolty’ horse when I was sick and it bolted in the wrong direction for a few kilometres and then I got chased by a pack of dogs and I ended up jumping over two of the dogs. They got in front of us and the horse just leapt over them and I thought I was going to die at that point. But I didn’t fall off at all. It was swampy too.”

Interviewer: So you were riding in a swampy area being chased by a pack of dogs when you were on your own, and ill on a bolting horse going in the wrong direction?

“Yep! I’d definitely say it was the world’s toughest horse race, and about ten times tougher than it sounds, definitely the biggest adventure on the planet!

“I would recommend it to a select few people. Definitely the highlight of my life so far. I think it deserves the title of the world’s toughest horse race. I came in knowing it was going to be tough and it was so much tougher than I thought it was going to be.”

Follow the Mongol Derby on Twitter at @MongolDerbyLive and the Prometheus Medics at @PrometheusMed