The world’s most ragtag, saddle-sore, pungent finisher parade kicked off today when joint winners Adrian Corboy and Annabel Neasham crossed the Mongol Derby finish line at 1:25 p.m. (1:25 a.m. EST).
“People say when they finish, they could easily do another 1,000 kilometers. Well… I think I’m good with this,” Annabel reflected.
I don’t think that anyone has ever said that, Annabel, and if they did they were lying.
Annabel, a two-star eventer in the UK before she moved to Australia, and Adrian, a ruggedly handsome and (sorry, Internet!) very much married Aussie, both work for Ciaron Maher Racing Stables in Melbourne, Annabel as Racing Manager and Adrian as a rider. Ciaron was originally on the rider roster but broke his leg last-moment and asked Adrian to sub in. He had to lose 15 pounds in three weeks to make the weight limit of 176 lbs. with gear -- makes one’s stomach growl just to contemplate it -- but managed it, and the rest is history.
Their secret to success? Adrian and Annabel cited horse selection as key: They learned to identify horses that looked fast but also had staying power, as opposed to just candle-in-the-wind race ponies. They also took good care with pace -- they kept a steady canter and gave the horses a breather when they needed one -- and cooling out.
“We’ve seen great horsemanship from both -- clear vet cards,” Derby HQ reports. “At every station Adrian carries both saddles in, giving the horses a break, while Annabel dumps the remains of their hydration packs on their horses to cool them down.”
Naturally their journey was not without peril. Annabel recalls one harrowing misadventure: “We were stuck, properly stuck, in a bog. We were about ready to hit the help button when a young herder came out of the fog and led us through a swollen river; it wasn’t actually the race course but he led us the right way. That was the point we won the race.”
That’s about as Mongolia as it gets.
The parade re-commenced a couple hours later with 24-year-old Devan Horn, our top American racer, coming in 3rd. Well-played, Devan! Will she be satisfied with a top-three finish or will we see her in a few years for Derby v. 4.0? Time will tell but first, perhaps, a well-earned nap.
Eliza Allen, a 35-year-old single mom and full-time school teacher from Western Australia, finished 4th. Truly, the Derby takes all kinds.
Tied for 5th we have Charlotte Howard, the tough-as-nails 25-year-old Kiwi, and Angus Lowe, a polo player from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Hinke van der Werf, a 28-year-old Dutch nurse/sociologist, also finished under the wire today in 6th.
With just one leg to go, Practical Horseman’s Jocelyn Pierce and the gang she’s been running with are on track to finish in the morning of day 8. See you at the finish line, Jocelyn! Here’s where the rest of the field landed at the end of day 7:
Urtuu 28 – Ed & Jack Archibald (AUS), Henry Bell (AUS), Michael Turner (USA), Jocelyn Pierce (USA), Valeria Ariza (URU).
In between 26 & 27 – John Moore (IRE)
Urtuu 26 – Christine Roberts (USA), Eion Kemp (NZ), Kelsey Riley (USA)
In between 24 & 25 – Trudi Thomas-Morton (NZL), Kelsey Opstad (USA)
Urtuu 24 – Joel Scholz (USA), Nicolette Merle-Smith (USA), Michael Gascon (USA), Karrin O’Loughlin (AUS), William Gunning (USA)
Urtuu 23 – Charmaine O’Niel (IRE), Saif Noon (PAK), Tamara Becksted (CAN), Matthew Graham (USA), Gemma Ractliffe (UK), Jeanette Lazarro (USA), Dori Hertel (USA), Pamela Karner (USA), Manuel Mendez (POR), Carol Federighi (USA)
Retired: Cele Stone (AUS), Heather ‘Flash’ Accardo (USA), Kathy Gabriel (AUS), Madison Smith (USA), Samantha Anderson (RZA), Rodney Herman (AUS), Chase and Mike Becker (AUS), Rouke Bloemsma (NED)
While it seems to go on forever, this insufferably long race does have a 10-day cut-off, so riders will be kicking on to make it to the finish by Aug. 18. Best of luck to all!
Missed out on the earlier stories? Get caught up!
- Day 6
- Day 5
- Day 3-4 Report
- Day 2 Report
- Day 1 Report
- Day 1 Report (the intended Day 1!)
- Race Training Report
Practical Horseman Associate Editor Jocelyn Pierce is competing in the Mongol Derby, a 600-mile expedition considered the longest and toughest horse race in the world, Aug. 8-27. Here’s how to follow the action, sponsored by Mane 'n Tail and SmartPak:
• Visit Practical Horseman for daily race recaps and Jocelyn updates from 2017 Derby finisher Leslie Wylie
• Follow Jocelyn’s progress live via her GPS tracker, read official reports via the Derby website, and follow @mongolderbylive on Twitter
• Tune in for Derby Dot Watch Party podcasts presented by Horse Radio Network in partnership with Practical Horseman, broadcast live nightly at 8 p.m. EST