South African, Byeronie Epstein has just won the Mongol Derby in spectacular fashion. Beginning the day 5 stations from the finish it looked like the race would certainly go into the 8th Day. Byeronie and Elise Poitrinal had other ideas though and reaching HS 27 with less than 3 hours until the course closed reached the decision to ride on.
Given that the changeover would take half an hour this was a brave tactic; arriving at the finish line half an hour after the course closes would give them a 3 hour penalty. Even if they finished in time, presenting a horse with heart rate over 56 bpm after an hour would cost them a penalty too.
Byeronie picked a spectacular horse from the last Urtuu though which carried her much of the stage at 24 kph, meaning a later riding penalty was never a question. She couldn't have chosen better horse, which boasted an unrivaled 21 Nadaam medals (top 5 finishes in seasonal equine festivals).
The horse delivered her to the finish just 30 seconds before Elise but it's heart rate stabilised within just 15 minutes. Our head vet Helen declaring it has the strongest heart she'd ever heard "This horse is a freak; a Mongolian Secretariat. No wonder Elise's horse looks more tired".
Epstein rode her luck in the morning when she fell off her horse and was only reunited with it when Ben Wilks, Maxim Van Lierde and Michele Tanaka stopped to help her.
Byeronie is now the third South African champion after Charles Van Wyk (joint winner in 2009) & Craig Egberink (2011). She is also the third lady winner after Sam Jones and Lara Palmer in 2014 & 2013.