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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

From Magnolia to Mongolia: Goodwood rider Salmon set for Mongol Derby

David Redvers completed the Mongol Derby last year
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The Mongol Derby, the world's longest horserace, attracts a disparate bunch of adventurers every year, and this time Clare Salmon, the former chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation, has thrown her hat into the ring for the gruelling 1,000km challenge.

Last week Salmon was in action at Goodwood in the 5½f Magnolia Cup, but the 53-year-old will be facing a completely different set of circumstances in a race expected to take around ten days for the final finishers to complete.

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, David Redvers and Kevin Darley were part of a four-strong Qatar Racing team which tackled the race last year but, highlighting its attritional nature, only Redvers and Peter Molony managed to finish.

Clare Salmon (far left): is taking part in the Mongol Derby
Speaking from the Mongolian Steppe on Monday, Salmon, who has been involved in racing as an owner with Gary Moore, said: "We had our first rehearsal and met some very small and enthusiastic Mongolian horses. Mine had two speeds: stopped and tied up, or galloping – so we did galloping!

"There's a bit of a contrast from a 17-hand horse to a 12½-hand Mongolian pony. There's a wide range of abilities and it's all rather marvellous."

Salmon is hoping not to finish last, and added: "There's a huge amount of luck involved as you don't know the horses and they don't know you. You also have to navigate and there aren't many landmarks, just a lot of grass."

Food poisoning is another potential hazard, and Salmon, a vegetarian, said: "One of the challenges for me is going to be keeping nourished. There's an animal called the marmot out here which the Mongolians like to eat, but some of them have the plague. So far I've eaten a lot of chocolate, and that's how I intend to continue."

She concluded: "I'll go as fast as I can for as long as I can stay upright."

The race begins on Wednesday and the course is modelled on the postal route and system developed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Riders change horses every 40km and stay with the local herders or camp under the stars.

Salmon is one of 38 competitors, ten of whom are from Britain, including Salmon's husband Neil. The field also includes a South African seed potato farmer and a Swedish private investigator. At least conversations round the campfire should be interesting!

If you are interested in this story, you might also like:

From Gold Cup to Magnolia Cup for delighted Dido

Redvers 'exhilarated' after completing gruelling contest

Sheikh Fahad has to quit 'wonderful' but gruelling race

There's an animal called the marmot out here which the Mongolians like to eat, but some of them have the plague. So far I've eaten a lot of chocolate
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