Byeronie Epstein won the 2015 Derby by just 30 seconds. To win a 1000 km race, by any distance you need all your stars need to align. Not to detrat from her excellent ride here are 5 key moments it could've gone very differently.
1) Devan Horn takes ill
Devan was the favourite going into the race and had what some thought was an unassailable lead for the first two days. When she got sick and retired, it left the race wide open.
2) Elise Poitrinal gets a penalty
On day four, while in the lead group of 6, Elise picked up a vet penalty because her horses heart rate didn't drop below 56bpm within half an hour. It looks like she just got a horse that wasn't as strong as the others as none of them had any veterinary issues. She made back the lost time without too much trouble, but could've spent that time forging a lead.
3) Byeronie gets some help
On day 7 Byeronie lost her horse between HS23 & 24. If it wasn't for Max, Ben and Michele stopping to help her, she probably would've lot a lot of time chasing down the horse, possibly even taking a penalty if she needed to call for help.
4) Byeronie gets a champion
Coming up to the final leg Elise had the slight lead on Byeronie. This all changed when Byeronie chose the most decorated horse we've ever had on the derby, a winner of 21 nadaam medals. They were level for most of the last leg but eventually Elise's horse just couldn't keep up.
5) Will Graham loses his horse
Will lost his horse saddling up on the morning of day 3 which ruined a whole day's ride. At the time he was looking threatening but recovering his horse took half a day. Not only did this lose him 16 places in the field but it lost him his mojo for a day or two, by which time he was way behind the lead.
Another significant moment was when Patrick Sells hit 'help' on day 6 between HS21 & HS22. At that point he was the fastest rider in the top six and was gaining ground on the leaders. Being a vet, he realised his horse wasn't feeling right and he stopped to call for veterinary assistance. For this he lost most of the afternoon and picked up a penalty which basically killed off his champion hopes. A gent to the last Patrick didn't whisper a word of regret and was just pleased the horse was ok.