The Gaucho Derby
The greatest test of horsemanship and survival skill on Earth
Horse racing re-invented
Imagine yourself thundering deep into the wilds of Patagonia on horseback. You’ve got your steed and, in some sections, a pack horse. You’re navigating across some of the wildest terrain on Earth attempting to win one of the toughest and most unusual equine challenges in history.
After running the Mongol Derby for a decade we knew it was time to grow the new sport of ultra-endurance horse racing we had created. So we went in search of the next world beating adventure. We’ve not replicated The Mongol Derby with new scenery but designed a new race from the ground up – based on the landscape, culture, history and horses of Patagonia and the Gauchos. This is the greatest test of horsemanship and wilderness skills on Earth. This is the pioneers Gaucho Derby.
A 10 day 500km multi-horse adventure race.
The mind bending terrain in Patagonia makes this a race quite unlike anything else on the planet. It won’t just test your skill on a horse, but push you to the limit of your navigation skills, your ability to handle the wilderness and your physical endurance.
The Gaucho Derby is a multi horse race, but not in the same way the Mongol Derby. The race is broken down into 40km legs but you won’t be changing horse at every section. The high mountains are a test of skill not flat out speed so the horses won’t run out of steam. The flatter pampas sections will see you turning up the MPH to eat up the miles. For these sections you will be swapping to fresh horses regularly.
You’ll be riding large sections with a pack horse. As well as looking after and guiding your second steed you’ll have to switch mount mid leg to ensure the health of both animals by minimising the work.
This might be some of the most remote terrain around but that doesn’t mean we won’t be monitoring the horses welfare at every stage. There’ll be vet checks every 40km as well as race marshals, emergency and roaming vets to ensure that no rider puts their own competitiveness before the welfare of the animals. We would rather nobody wins than someone wins by pushing too hard. Riders seen making bad decisions, riding too fast across difficult terrain or not presenting horses in great condition will get penalties or be disqualified. Full rules will be available to riders as we are developing them with our vet team now.
Riders will be tracked by satellite and we have a world class remote medical support team monitoring rider health and responding to emergencies.
A pack horse?
Gauchos considering a long journey in Patagonia often do so with the help of a trusty pack horse. This makes riding, well, different. You always have a fresh horse with you and can carry a bit more stuff with you. But you now have two horses to look after. Much of the time, if you handle the horses well, the pack horse can run free but in some sections you’ll need to lead adding a complication to the whole proceedings.
It’s not the fastest way to travel on flat open country but it starts to make serious sense on long mountainous regions. The Gaucho Derby won’t be all taken on with 2 horses but key sections will be. It means we can reduce the strain on the beasts carrying you over the slower more technical sections.
Your turn to pioneer
When we launch a new race we like to test it repeatedly to make it awesome. We recently completed the first test of some of the route for the new Derby by all the gods of horses is it a beast.
But once our testing is done we release the adventure to a small select crowd of adventurers to ride the race for the very first time the gauntlet has been laid down.
March 2020 sees the Pioneers edition of the Gaucho Derby. So we’ll only be accepting the most qualified riders to write their names into racing history.
“He has taken his first lessons in riding before he is well able to walk”
said David Christison in the 1882 Journal of the Anthropological Institute. Gaucho’s were nomadic, skilled horseman and cow herds who were reputed to be brave and somewhat unruly. Greatly admired and renowned in folklore and literature they became an important part of the regions cultural tradition. A way of life that has dwindled as farming practices and land ownership changed.
Clothed in a poncho (which doubles as a saddle blanket and as sleeping gear), a large knife called a facón and loose trousers called bombachas held in place with a wide belt, they travelled far across the wild landscapes of South America.
Just as you’re about to.