We select riders according to their suitability; their riding experience, not just in years and heights of fences or distances raced, but in terms of horsemanship. We look for riders with proven ability to work with their horses and a clear commitment to putting the horses first. We reserve the right to take references on any rider and frequently take these up. Every rider is interviewed by HQ and hand picked. All must weigh under 85kgs dressed to ride on race day 1. We aim to have a balanced field of men and women so that the heavier riders are a minority and can be assigned the minority of bigger horses available in Mongolia.
We produce a physical catalogue of all of the horses selected for the Derby, and each urtuu family keeps this record. This ensures that, barring the odd emergency substitute, the horses used on the race are traceable, and we know they have been properly prepared, and verified as healthy and fit to take part by our selection team.
The entire course is designed to safeguard horse welfare as far as possible. The availability of water is paramount and where the course does not naturally follow or cross freely available water sources we actively map nearby water sources and wells, and check their viability in multiple manual surveys prior to the event. In drought conditions we supplement the naturally available water supplies. Where sections of the course appear to pose a tough challenge for the horses, for example a very mountainous section , or a big river crossing, we recce on horseback and actively test the route for suitability before including it, and take advice from herders who live locally. By using horses local to every station we tend to find horses well adapted to whatever natural obstacles and conditions we come across on the Derby.