Mongol Derby RACE REPORT: Day 6 – Friday 9th August

Headlines

- 16 riders still officially racing from the 30 strong pack that started

- 1st placed Devan Horn just 1 hour 25 minutes ahead of Lara Prior-Palmer after another change of guard at the top – will the winner be crowned tomorrow?

- 5 more riders retire from the race

-  See the full Day 6 leaderboard here

- Prometheus Medics kept busy dealing with heat exhaustion, gastrointestinal problems, bruising from being thrown from a horse, dehydration and minor injuries

Kirsten Melis is in hot pursuit of the two leaders on leg 18, 9th Aug 2013

Kirsten Melis is in hot pursuit of the two leaders on leg 18, 9th Aug 2013

Race Commentary: Derby Chief Katy Willings

“I think the winner will hit the finish line at around 5.30pm tomorrow by my estimation. Devan may be in front but there’s absolutely no margin for error – an hour and a half is not very much over four horse stations (160km).

For either to finish tomorrow on Day 7 they’ve got to do four stations in a day and none of them are short ones, in fact there’s a big pass between 23 and 24 and it’s also the longest leg of the entire race. So it’s a test of navigation skills and a big test of horsemanship.

They’ll need to pace the horse as they’re riding around 48km on that leg, and there’s a river crossing to tackle so there could be a lot of drama just on that leg. All sorts could happen, it could take just take one bad bit of navigation to make the difference so I do think it’s still all to play for at the front.

Devan Horn and Lara Prior-Palmer arrive virtually together at a quiet horse station 18, 9th Aug 2013

Devan Horn and Lara Prior-Palmer arrive virtually together at a quiet horse station 18, 9th Aug 2013

Devan got into Horse Station 21 at 17:15 so she could have done another station but we decided to hold her there, and Lara came in at 18:40 so an hour and 25 minutes behind her and we also held Lara there overnight. It’s probably not what they would have planned but they are bunked up together there for the evening. It’s the first time since pre-race training they would’ve seen each other to talk to, I would love to be a fly on the wall in that ger tonight! [They were held due to the distance between the riders and the importance of ensuring the huge distance between first and last doesn't endanger the veterinary checks and emergency medical coverage.]

Mongolian vet Baaska checks over Kirsten Melis’s horse after leg 18, 9th Aug 2013

Mongolian vet Baaska checks over Kirsten Melis’s horse after leg 18, 9th Aug 2013

Because they came in apart we’re going to send them out using the same interval to make sure the race hold doesn’t affect their relative positions. So Devan Horne is riding out at 7am from station 21 and Lara Prior-Palmer will be riding out at 08:25.

We also need to make sure that the vets are in position for the rest of the race to ensure an uninterrupted gallop to the finish. It should be a good honest slog to the line and apart from the staggered start neither rider is carrying any further penalty.

Chloe Phillips-Harris, one of the three riders chasing the leading pair had dropped right back but she caught up an impressive three hours on Kirsten Melis and Clare Twemlow today after having a real flyer. I think all three will ride in to the next station very close together but Chloe unfortunately lost her tracker and it took a day to re-unite her with it. Because that counts as outside assistance she has to take an hour’s penalty for having the unit delivered to her. So this evening Clare and Kirsten are camping 12km short of Horse Station 19 and Chloe is about 4km behind them also camping out.

Devan Horn makes her way up to the high pass on leg 18 behind leader at the time Lara Prior-Palmer, 9th Aug 2013

Devan Horn makes her way up to the high pass on leg 18 behind leader at the time Lara Prior-Palmer, 9th Aug 2013

We could have asked Chloe to stay where she was but instead it was decided that she could ride on and take a penalty. She will sit that penalty out tomorrow morning at station 20, but she still has 5 stations to make that time back up. Given that she made up a three hour difference just today on Clare and Kirsten she’s certainly not out of the running to catch up with them and contest for those leaderboard positions. So the battle for third place, even if they don’t end up getting close to the leading pair is an intriguing three-way battle.

Then there’s a huge 160km gap behind the leading 5 so tomorrow the race will play out across 11 horse stations in one day. That’s the reason the logistics got complicated and Devan arrived at Horse Station 21 before the vets. It’s strange that we’ve ended up with such large gap in the field. It’ll be a busy day for the crews, for the families running some of the stations they’ll get a day off!

Dylan Delahunt (started the race with 3 broken ribs and they’re starting to bite – the medics are on standby. He’s done an amazing job. He broke them during a pre-race training ride with a rider from the 2012 Derby and his horse threw him off.”

See the Day 6 Leaderboard here.

Follow Race Chief Katy’s updates during racing hours as she tweets live from @MongolDerbyLive

Follow the Prometheus Medical team on Twitter here: @PrometheusMed