Monday, June 30, 2014

Brave Gloucestershire woman set to embark on epic horse race across Mongolia

BRAVE Jess Kwong is set to embark on what has been described as the most extreme race on horseback the world has ever seen.

The 22-year-old from Newent says she excited, privileged and “no doubt crazy enough” to take part in this year’s Mongolian Derby.

In its sixth year, the event sees 42 riders on semi-wild horses race over 1,000km of Mongolia Steppe – a journey based on the nation’s postal route which was established by Genghis Kahn.

Jess, who is originally from Hong Kong and is currently on an advanced apprenticeship programme with Summer House Equestrian and Training Centre in Hardwicke, said: “Pretty much any rider finishing the race is one piece is a success, but, officially, previous winners were representatives of Mongolia, South Africa, USA, Ireland and the UK. I am hoping to add Hong Kong to this list.

“The race, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is officially the longest and toughest endurance ride in the world.

“As well as enduring the distance of the trek, challenges to the riders include a high probability of injury associated with riding 25 different, unfamiliar, and semi-wild Mongol horses, navigating through remote, unmarked and varied terrain and exposure to mother nature’s elements.

“Rules of the race include no riding after dark, so riders have the choice of sleeping wild or hopefully catching some hospitality with local herders.”

Jess, who started riding with the Hong Kong Jockey Club at the age of seven, is taking part in the event to raise funds for the World Horse Welfare Organisation, a British organisation which aims to improve the lives of animals around the world through education, campaigning and better hand-on care. Jess added: “I recently took on a young horse from the RSPCA and am busy rehabilitating her.”

She decided to take part in this year’s event, which starts on August 14, after taking part in the British Horse Society’s Mongolian Challenge Ride where she spent 40 hours in the saddle riding more than 100miles across the country last summer.

Jess’ mother Judith said about her daughter’s involvement with the race: “I am terrified. A lot of participants do get injured and some don’t finish as they are riding semi-wild horses so it is a bit of a dangerous event.

“She certainly has the riding skills and has been getting herself very fit. But with all of these extreme challenges, it is the unknown that concerns me.”

To keep up to date with Jess’s progress or to make a donation towards the charity, visit her website at kwongrider.com.

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