The greatest test of horsemanship and survival skill on Earth

Meet the Pioneers

The world’s first Gaucho Derby took place in March 2020.  Our pioneering riders hailed from all over the globe to take on one of the world’s toughest tests of survival, navigation and horsemanship.

The race did not fail to deliver on the promise of adventure, with riders battered by an unexpected snowstorm, awed by epic Andean vistas and enchanted by the Argentine horses.

These riders were the pioneering Gaucho Derbyists and their experience has helped to shape the race going forward.

Horse racing re-invented

Imagine yourself thundering deep into the wilds of Patagonia on horseback. You’ve got your steed and 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 Gaucho Derby.

Race format

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 will 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.

The support

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. 

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 and so for the Pioneers’ Gaucho Derby, riders were given pack horses across some sections of the course.

For the Gaucho Derby 2021, we’re introducing a new race format so that riders won’t need a pack horse on any section of the course.


Meet the crew

Putting together this sort of thing is no small job. We’ve got an awesome crew pulling together the various strands of equine adventure from vets and medics to camp managers and drivers.

This is the work of a small army of people – coming from years of experience on the Mongol Derby for some, and a lifetime of living, riding and working in the Patagonian Wilderness for others.

Every member of the crew plays a vital part in making the Gaucho Derby happen and the gauchos, horse owners and Estancia families we work with enable our riders to cross Patagonia in a truly unique way.

The Gaucho

“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.

Your turn to pioneer

The Gaucho Derby pioneers having written their names into racing history, we’re now welcoming on board a new cohort of riders.  

As ever, the caliber of applicants keen to take up the gauntlet of this epic adventure is high and we look forward to seeing them rise to the challenge.

If you think you have the mettle, applications for the Gaucho Derby 2021 to take place in March 2021 are open now.

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