Mongol Derby Pre-Race Training

Start camp of the 2014 Mongol Derby

The first horse ran away with me... ...I jumped on it, kicked it into a canter and it just set off across the plain. It took a bit of stopping.
— Jamie Peel

Two days of intense rider training have just drawn to a close, and for the first time ever there have been no calamitous injuries before the race has started. Race Referee and 2010 Derby champion Charles Van Wyk has expressed his satisfaction with the riders saying they are comfortable on the horses and confident about the race. 

First ride of pre-race training 4th August

Winning for me isn’t important, I don’t want to stress too much. If you go at a good pace you might win anyway, if you’re rushing too much you can make bad decisions or get lost
— Musse Hasselvall

At the end of training all the riders have had some practice on the semi-wild Mongolian horses and brushed up on their navigation skills. There have only been two minor mishaps where Luke Berry from the Household Cavalry fell from his horse adjusting his stirrups and Katja Joachim managed to stay in her saddle when her mount fell in a marmot hole.

Guardsman Luke Berry hits the floor as other riders tack up. 

We want to do as well as we can, we want to give it everything.The plan is to kick on and see how far we get. The first thing is to make sure we don’t get bucked off at the start, then to cover as much ground as we can while the first couple of days while the weather is good.
— Jamie Peel

We asked Charles which riders are looking most competitive and he was quick to suggest the American riders as being of positive intent. Heather Russell in particular has expressed ambition for victory. Other likely contenders Charles noticed were the pairs of Antoine Carle and Emile Colling from France and Luxumborg, Chris Maude and Jamie Peel from the UK and the Swedish pair Musse Hasselvall and Per Michanek

Chris Maude and Jamie Peel test their mounts

The going will get tough, it’s just part of the experience. It’s only ten days, so the aim is to ride it even if you’re in pain or sick, just ride and finish then afterwards you can go home and rest.
— Anita Aradottir

There is a possible tactical advantage to be had by riding with an equally matched partner; navigational duties can be shared, there is always someone to hold your horse when you need the toilet and you can (in theory) encourage each-other when the going gets tough. This tactic certainly worked well for Donal Fahey and Richie Killoran in 2012 who secured a 1st, 2nd placement, though without discipline it is possible for your partner to slow you down.

The Household Cavalry bring some order to the steppe

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