Dispatch from the field, race day six
Riders feel the heat
Just 13 riders remain in the fray for Mongol Derby glory. British Anna Bradbury and South African Elsa Post are riding at leisure, alternating between horses and back-up jeeps, and have retired from the competition after an exhausting first half.
The Mongolian climate has taken on some significance during the last two days of racing. Fierce heat yesterday may have ended Australian Alisa Vermay's hopes for victory. Having led the field away yesterday (Wednesday) morning, she succumbed to heat stroke and dehydration later in the day, and was held by the medical team at Urtuu 16. She responded very well to treatment but was advised to take a rest day today, and remains at Urtuu 16 with one of the Prometheus Medical team.
Today has been a good deal cooler and seen some heavy rainfall, throwing up a new set of challenges to the horses and riders.
The leading pack may have been split again today. We have had reports of a time penalty being imposed on one of the leading riders. Riders may have time penalties imposed by the vets if their horse fails its vet check, or by the back-up team if they stray too far away from the course. The penalty system is designed to protect the welfare of the horses and riders, and ensure a fair contest. At the end of day six, Saskia van Heeren and Justin Nelzen are at Urtuu 20, an urtuu clear of the next rider, Madonna Harris.
Madonna remains clear of the next group at Urtuu 18, Hilary Ponti representing the US, Sophie de Selliers of Belgium, Camilla Swift, Rhiannon Thomas, Anya Campbell and Richard Dyer of the UK. They are one urtuu ahead of Brit Susi Saddler and American Kat Swigart, who gamely recovered from a fall on day two and is reported to be sporting a shiner of a black eye, whilst Camilla Speck is just a couple of kms short of the chasing pack between Urtuus 17 and 18. Meanwhile, Alisa is bringing up the rear, some 100 kms off the pace, at Urtuu 16.
As we have seen today the race can change shape in very short order. Even if the leaders have commenced their sprint to the finish, they are only a mishap away from rejoining the chasing pack.
The horses seem to be coping very well, and we have had no veterinary incidents reported to date. The course is set with water sources in mind.
Report filed by Miss Kate Willings, Head of Equitation and Tack Cleaning, The Adventurists, from Bristol, UK