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Sheikh Fahad has to quit 'wonderful' but gruelling race

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani in action before his enforced withdrawal from the Mongol Derby
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Sheikh Fahad Al Thani has been forced to pull out of the Mongol Derby but has spoken of his thrill at taking part in the 1,000km marathon.

He had got past halfway in an event regarded as the longest and toughest horse race in the world but after a bruising fall decided to retire.

"It was an experience I’ll never forget," said the Qatar Racing boss. "We had some pretty bad weather, they said worse than usual, and there were some tough times, but it was amazing countryside and a wonderful thing to be a part of.

"If you had told me two years I ago I would be riding wild, virtually unbroken Mongolian ponies across plains and mountains for 500km and sleeping on the ground, I wouldn't have believed you."

He added: "Everybody fell off more than once and I would have carried on if I could. Unfortunately my back started giving me problems relatively early on, and then I damaged my hip, so I had to call it a day.

"Part of me is jealous of the guys still going, although I am looking forward to a bed and a bath."

With Kevin Darley having already retired, Qatar Racing's four-strong team has been cut in half, but David Redvers and Peter Molony are doing well and are in the pack behind leaders Venetia Philips and Tatiana Mountbatten.

Conditions are reported to be challenging, but Redvers – who has covered 734km – and Molony are expected to complete the course tomorrow.

Progress can be followed at theadventurists.com/mongol-derby-live-dashboard/.   

Part of me is jealous of the guys still going, although I am looking forward to a bed and a bath