PHOTOS: Mongolian mini-nadaam marks launch of Mongol Derby

The Mongol Derby is a recreation of the ancient horse messenger system used by Genghis and chums to relay messages across the very large parts of Planet Earth they used to call home back in their heyday. This impressive system of connected horse stations was reportedly still being used as a key part of the rural postal system in many areas up until the late 1940s.

And these days horsemanship is still very much in the blood. Like British people moaning about the weather, it's rooted in the national psyche, only much more impressive to watch than pasty Brits discussing the drizzle. 

Perhaps not as widely known, Mongolian contortionists are the most bendy human beings in the world, so it was only fitting that both were part of the launch ceremony and mini-nadaam staged to mark the launch of the Derby. 

There are 34 riders taking part this year, all highly experienced equestrians, some professional racing jockeys and others have represented their countries. All are what a layman would call 'proper horsey types'. But all of them very quickly realised during the mini-nadaam that they're still nowhere near as good as the average 11 year old Mongolian horserider. 

Here's a few photos: