One of the connections of Tina Cook’s Olympic silver medal-winning event horse Miners Frolic is among 29 hardy riders setting out on this summer’s Mongol Derby.

Alex Embiricos, who applied after reading about the race in H&H, is bidding to become the first female winner.

Billed “the world’s toughest horserace” — and the longest, at nearly 1,000km — the race begins on 4 August. The winner is expected to finish the course by 11 August.

Alex has ridden over 60 winners as an amateur jockey and her father Nick owned Aldaniti, who — trained by Tina’s father Josh Gifford — won the Grand National with Bob Champion in 1981. She is raising money for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

“I’ll be really trying to win,” she told H&H. “I’ve done a couple of long distance rides and I’ve been training — swimming and cycling as well as practising navigating — since September.

“I’m not particularly looking forward to the naughty little horses, but I can’t wait to see Mongolia. It’s going to be a really big adventure.”

This is the fifth year of the race. Competitors travel across the Mongolian steppe, staying with nomadic herding families and riding up to 160km a day. Around 1,000 horses will be used, as they are changed at 40km intervals.

In the past, the race has attracted concerns surrounding equine welfare. This year, there will be even stricter vet checks and riders must monitor their horse’s heart rates. If these are too high, the rider will receive time-penalties.

Other contenders this year include amateur jockey Clare Twemlow, point-to-point rider David Maxwell; international endurance riders Lynne Gilbert (USA), Devan Horse (USA) and Sandra Fretelliere (France); former Canadian eventer Alison Wilson, and two-star Kiwi eventer Chloe Phillips-Harris.

For more information visit: www.mongolderby.com

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (30 May 2013)