THE world’s longest horse race ended in an unbelievable dead-heat – after the winners decided to team up to cross the line together.
The Mongol Derby is a treacherous test of stamina and willpower over 600 miles of tough Mongolian terrain.
Jooste, left, and Griffith cross the finish line together as the world’s longest race over 600 miles ended in a dead-heat
Jockeys ride through broken bones, exhaustion and all kinds of weather – while still managing to raise a smile
For context, the Grand National is run just over four miles – so the Mongol Derby is around 150 Grand Nationals!
The race is based on the ancient horse messenger system said to have been used by Genghis Khan and takes in vast open plains, enormous sand dunes and freezing mountain routes.
Horses are changed roughly every 20 miles and jockeys battle on through fatigue, broken bones and all sorts of weather.
They will look to race for around 125 miles a day, with roughly 28 different horses over the duration of the contest.
Tom Morgan, who founded the Mongol Derby, said: “The horses are always fresh and the riders are always exhausted.”
That looked especially accurate when American Diedre Griffith and South African Willemein Jooste past the post together after eight days of racing.
It was an agonising finish for Brit Chris Walker and his Irish team-mate Patrick Heffron who led on days six and seven.
Griffith and Jooste overtook them with just a few hours of racing left to relegate them to tied third.
Some 46 riders from ten countries took part in this year’s marathon race, which was cancelled the previous two years because of Covid.
Speaking of her win, Griffith, a 34-year-old estate agent, said: “I’m injury-free and didn’t come off any horses, thankfully!
“This race has always piqued my interest as an epic challenge both mentally and physically.
“Traveling horseback I think is the best way to see a new country, and getting to interact with the locals in such a horse-oriented culture was really special.
“One of my main reasons for competing in this race is to show my two daughters that they should dream big and they can achieve anything they set their minds to with hard work and determination.”
Griffith and Jooste celebrate winning the Mongol Derby after 600 miles and eight days of treacherous racing