Busselton riders prepare for world's toughest horse race

Amelia Park Farm manager Sarah Brown and horse breaker Jesse Byrne have been selected for the 2019 Mongol Derby. Image Sophie Elliott.
Amelia Park Farm manager Sarah Brown and horse breaker Jesse Byrne have been selected for the 2019 Mongol Derby. Image Sophie Elliott.

It is described as the longest and toughest horse race in the world, but that hasn’t stopped Amelia Park Farm manager Sarah Brown and horse breaker Jesse Byrne signing up for the 2019 Mongol Derby.

The duo are among just 40 riders chosen to compete in the 10 day race through the Mongolian Steppe.

The world’s greatest equine adventure race is based on Genghis Khan’s horse messenger system, which connected half the planet as the nerve system of the largest empire in human history. Race organisers have spent the last decade rebuilding the ancient network to stage the 1000 kilometre event.

Brown and Byrne will ride semi-wild horses, changing steeds every 40km as they navigate the stretch and live among the herders.

Byrne, who was born into the racing industry, admitted he was concerned about chaffing but looking forward to taking on the mental and physical challenge.

“There are not many ways to test yourself as a rider and as a person,” he said.

“I feel like if you can get through something like this, it will make any problems you face afterwards seem minor and that if you knuckle down, you can get through anything.

“We will be able to come home and feel like we’ve accomplished something.”

Brown begged for a pony as a little girl and has made her love of horses her life and career.

She agreed the Mongol Derby was a massive undertaking, but a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.

“To be chosen for this is a huge honour and not something we take lightly,” she said.

“It feels like being a part of history and we are sure it will be the challenge of a lifetime.

“It is going to be a huge test as we are used to working with the same horse everyday. Plus along the derby you stay with local nomads or camp out, you eat what you are given and don’t get to shower.”

Due to the difficulty of the derby, only half the racers finish the race any given year.

Brown and Byrne have until August 2019 to prepare and are starting their fundraising campaign now.

The pair said they would be extremely grateful for any support.

The funds will be used to cover entry fee costs and will also go towards Cool Change Charity, supported by the derby organisers. 

“It is an extremely expensive adventure to undertake and we are looking to raise funds to help us get there,” they said.

“If you can part with some of your hard earned cash we will be eternally grateful and will be sure to be thinking of you all whilst we battle chaffing, hunger and freezing outdoor nights.”