Underlying defect likely to have caused Mongol Derby horse death

  • Post mortem results have revealed an underlying defect was probably behind the death of a pony in this year’s Mongol Derby.

    The mount of British dressage rider Tatiana Mountbatten died suddenly on day seven of the 1,000km horse race (August 10]), between urtuus (horse stations) 23 and 24.

    Investigating vet Dr Jeremy Hubert found a massive diaphragmatic rupture, which he attributed to either a congenital defect or the legacy of an old kick injury.

    “He found it unlikely that the rupture could have been the result of strenuous exercise. There is no evidence to suggest that anything Tatiana did while under saddle caused the rupture,” said Katy Willings in a statement from organisers The Adventurists HQ.

    “[The horse] died extremely suddenly 8kms short of urtuu 24,” she continued. “Tatiana was momentarily aware that the horse did not feel right. Almost immediately the horse laid down and died. Both Tatiana and [riding partner] Venetia confirmed that both horses were travelling well within their capabilities and going well just moments before the horse’s death.”

    The statement added that the horse’s owner Jamiyanmyadag “has been informed, compensated and received our ongoing support”.

    During the world’s “longest and toughest horse race”, new horses are selected by riders at the start of each 40km (25-mile) leg, where they are checked over by vets.

    These Mongolian horses come from a pool of 1,400 chosen from herds of local breeders in the months preceeding the derby. They undergo a programme of ridden work in preparation for the trek, which follows ancient Mongolian postal routes.

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    This horse met every criteria we set for suitability,” the statement added. “We work with herders who understand the physical demands of the race on their horses and the need to prepare them thoroughly for the weight and distance.

    Jamiyanmyadag had prepared his horse fastidiuously as evidenced by the excellent performance of his horses from urtuu 23 to 24.”

    Tatiana was one of five Brits to finish among the top 10 in the derby when it concluded on 11 August.

    The 26-year-old crossed the line fifth, while her team-mate Venetia Phillips, who she rode with throughout, was sixth.

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