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British teenager becomes first woman to win Mongol Derby

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Nineteen-year-old Lara Prior-Palmer from Hampshire in the United Kingdom has become both the first female rider to win the Mongol Derby - known as one of the world's toughest horse races. She is also the youngest and first British jockey to win the race since it began in 2009. The derby is notorious as being one of the hardest horse races in the world.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Prior-Palmer claimed victory in the 1000-kilometer race in especially trying circumstances, with the American woman Devan Horn actually crossing the finishing line first this past weekend.

Rules for the Mongol Derby stipulate that each rider's horse must pass a veterinary inspection at the end of each leg. Horn's horse's heart-rate did not recover in the required time. She was issued with a two-hour penalty, which handed victory to Prior-Palmer.

The niece of Lucinda Green, a six-time Badminton champion, Prior-Palmer wrote in the Telegraph prior to the race  that she "wasn't scared of anything at the moment."

The course is a recreation of Genghis Khan's ancient postal system of 25 horse stations across the Mongolian steppe.

Jockeys change their semi-wild Mongolian horses at each station. The riders also stay with the local herding families that run the stations and provide the horses.

"I can't really believe it . I came into the first station last because my horse was so slow and I had to walk him in. I thought that would be the end of my Mongol Derby," she said.

"I knew that there were 30 people and nearly all of those 30 wanted to win and I really just wanted to finish.

"If you compare my first few days to my last few days I was going so much slower . and suddenly I just got the hang of it and how to ride the horses and what to do to catch up with the rest."

Official race photojournalist and former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody said he'd witnessed "phenomenal riding" and that both front-riders had "set a scorching pace."

Half of the 30 riders who started the race have now withdrawn, with only 15 now expected to complete. Many have fallen off or been bucked off their semi-wild horses or sustained injuries.

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