Action at the front
Day 3 on the derby and some strong partnerships are forming but it's the solo riders who are looking the strongest. Near the front Madison Kauffman and Lisa Youngwerth are looking inseparable, while Chris Maude and Jamie Peel have been joined by Rob Skinner who is looking more formidable now that he's navigating better.
The favourites right now though are possibly Sam Jones, Mary Lee and Brent Aulbino. Most significantly Sam who rode like a banshee all day and comfortably negated the penalty she picked up on day 1. All the riders at HS11 tonight got in with enough time to serve any penalties so will all leave together in the morning.
Proving that age should be no barrier to adventurism is Barbara Smith despite being the oldest rider in the field she is comfortably holding her own with the youngsters up front. This morning she had to contend with her steed falling while stepping into a marmot hole, which she quickly bounced back from.
Attrition at the back
There have been three more drop outs, Luke Berry from the Household Cavalry suffered a fall yesterday and was sent to Ulaanbaatar for a scan. The medical reports are good but it spells the end of his race. Loden Burton and Jess Kipp have succumbed to a D&V bug which is doing the rounds, coupled with exhaustion and dehydration it makes riding pretty tough. Both were resting up yesterday in the hope of being able to continue but sadly it wasn't so.
A tough time in the middle
Amy Wallace-Whelan and Courtney Davis spent last night under the stars, but any illusion of a life affirming experience was quickly shattered when they found their horses had fled in the night. A seach party was dispatched for the naughty neddies but Courtney's stallion had gone a good distance and both riders opted to take a ride to HS7 which they will be penalised for at HS11.
There was a particularly tough leg between HS 6 & HS7 with a big set of hills to navigate around, most riders managed this, but Alison Wilson, Roisin McCourt and Michelle Jarvis tried to cut the corner and go over the top. They spent about eight hours battling the mountains and a search party was sent out as a precautionary measure. They too took up the offer of a lift forward and will collect a 3hr penalty for the privilege. Despite their foray into the hills they held an impressive pace between HS7 & HS8 overtaking some of the riders they fell behind on their 'scenic route'.
Heather Russell also had a difficult run on her way from HS6 after having trouble with some unpleasant locals who tried to rob her, she was dispatched from danger by her trusty steed. A passing herder further helped her out until she met up with Per and Musse who chivalrously escorted her to HS7.
We'll leave the last word to Alex Piltz who despite struggling with illness is still enjoying the hospitality.
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