Early this morning the lead six rode off from HS15 purposefully like knights into battle (BW, BE, EP, BCM, ML & MT).
The chasing pack (PSK, KW, SK, UM & CP) though two stations behind began following at an even greater speed with Sara Klymkowsky clocking an impressive 20 kpm. On arrival at HS14 Patrick was looking euphoric declaring "I've just ridden the best horse in Mongolia".
Meanwhile the going wasn't so good for Devan Horn at HS12. She had made some recovery overnight but not enough to ride on. This is a devastating blow for the young Texan who has been working towards victory here for two years.
A pattern seems to be developing on the steppe this summer. In the cool of the morning the riders push on at a considerable lick, making some impressive miles and having a lot of fun while they're at it. Then it gets to mid-day and in the heat of the sun things start getting tough. Rider begin to tire and start to make mistakes.
At HS10 (known for its wild horses) Catherine Gudde bravely chose the biggest of the lot - a horse we recognised as the biggest ever on the Derby. The pairing didn't work out so good and Catherine soon returned to the station to swap horse.
Liz Brown is currently suffering from a chest infection. With the first night of rain arriving has changed her habit of sleeping on the steppe and is at HS15 tonight with the main party.
Jennifer Engisch and Iain Hayter both had to hit 'Help' at different points this afternoon. Jensie found her horse objected to the heat and refused to move. She took a carry forward to HS12. Iain realised he would be unable to reach the next horse station before the course closed at decided on a carry forward to HS13. Both riders will get a 3 hour penalty for being carried.
After looking close to retiring yesterday Iain is responding well to his medication though and is feeling much stronger.
The Fight for the Crown
At the pointy end of the field there's finally been a breakaway from the lead six. Elise Pointrinal and Byeronie Epstien have peeled away from Michele Tanaka, Ben Wilks, Braden Cameron, and Maxim Van Lierde.
So now the battle for lead is: France/ South Africa followed by USA/ New Zealand/ New Zealand/ New Zealand.
Elise is the youngest rider on the course and could be the first winner from France. Now that Devan is out Byeronie is the second youngest of the 2015 riders and would be the third South African champ afer Craig Egberink in 2011 and Charles van Wyk in 2009. Byeronie has been training this year with Justin Nelzen along with Devan Horn.
HS21 is the Second Penalty Urtuu and so far Elise is the only frontrunner carrying a penalty (subsequent penalties are carried out on the finish line). Effectively this means she's two hours behind Byeronie.
For 2015 we'll only enforce penalties at PS2 for the front half of the field. The back markers will be more interested in finishing than their eaxct placement, so to enable them to complete the race without being carried forward they wont have to stop at HS21.
Derby chief Katy will be reporting through the race, live on Twitter: @MongolDerbyLive
Applications for 2016 are open. If you prefer to participate than spectate you can apply here.