The Long Riders' Guild

Comparing FEI Rules with the Mongol Derby


21st July, 2009


To: Ian Williamson – FEI Endurance Director

From: CuChullaine O’Reilly –The Long Riders’ Guild

Subject: Proceeding Cautiously


Dear Ian,


You were correct when you said that we all want to ensure that the 800 small Mongolian horses are not abused or killed by this previously inexperienced race organizer. So it was indeed encouraging to learn that you and HRH Princess Haya have been working behind the scenes to speak to officials of the Mongolian government, as well as FEI officials in Section Eight who oversee that section of the planet.


Though your motives are commendable, it appears that there are grave areas of concern, in that the fundamental nature of Morgan’s race cheerfully and publicly violates the principles upon which FEI endurance racing is founded.


Here are some comparisons, and contrasts, which alarm the Long Riders’ Guild. Could you please take a few minutes to review these questions and then respond.


1) The FEI states -

“Endurance is a competition against the clock where the speed and endurance of a horse is put to the test, but where riders are also challenged with regards to effective use of pace and thorough knowledge of their horses and cross country.”

But Morgan’s website adamantly declares in bold letters -


Is this an endurance race? The Mongol Derby is NOT an endurance race, and has never been described as such.


How will the FEI condone participating in an event which is not even defined as falling under your jurisdiction? Will Morgan agree to redefine the event as an endurance race?


2) Beginning in early June, Marlana Geurrguiev, told a Senior Swiss Long Rider, “The FEI cannot interfere because our maximum race is 160 kilometers.” This limit was repeated on five separate occasions to various reporters and representatives of the Guild. Yet Morgan’s race violates this fundamental principle of FEI policy.


"The Mongol Derby is 1000 kilometres long …."


How can the FEI participate in a race of this extreme length? Will Morgan agree to reduce the race to 160 kilometers so as to meet FEI international approval?


3) The FEI maintains strict rules regarding the marking of the route. “The marking of the course must be done in such a manner that there is no doubt on how to proceed along the course.”


Yet Morgan’s route, which is reliant on GPS and raw luck, will put the contestants at constant risk. "How you get from the start to the finish, where you sleep, what you eat, how fast you go and how many wolves you grapple is up to you."


Nor has he agreed to publish the details of the route. "The exact race route will not be made public.."


Will the FEI require that the route be marked in advance? Will Morgan agree to downplay the danger so as to accommodate the FEI on this critical point of logistical safety?


4) The FEI is famed for ensuring that true endurance horses, and riders, must be fit, competent and in good health before they are allowed to compete.


Yet according to Morgan’s PR, these horses have had no prior endurance racing experience. "We're lining up around 800 horses for this race. These are not your average sissy boy horses, these are semi-wild, harder-than-a-box-full-of-concrete-in-a-freezer horses. And don't be fooled by their size, these are most definitely not ponies."


"These fine beasts…They're small, they're semi-wild, they have eight speeds and they're tougher than Rambo on steroids."


Considering the astonishing fact that Morgan plans to draft 800 horses into his event, how will the FEI confirm that all of these animals are properly vetted, trained and ready to take part in this event? Will Morgan agree to only race horses of a predetermined size, weight and training?


5) Also, according to your own rules, each horse shall have an FEI Endurance Log to be kept with its passport or identification document. How will your organization address the exception of nearly one thousand horses being allowed to race without any proper documentation?


6) The international endurance riders of the FEI are renowned for their skill. Yet Morgan has not only allowed novice recreational riders to take part in his event, he has paid a former English jockey to provide them with a pep talk prior to the race.

“Pre-race fitness and nutrition advice from former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody."


And "Pre Race Training, Mongolia - Thursday 20 and Friday 21 August 2009
A two-day training extravaganza with former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody. The session, called Gymkhaana, will be a splendid opportunity for you to get to grips with the type of horses you will be riding and pick up some tips from one of horse-racing's legends. Mr Dunwoody is arguably the greatest jump jockey the world has ever seen. He's ridden more winners over jumps than any other jockey in the world - just shy of a staggering 1,900 - and piloted racing greats such as Desert Orchid, West Tip, One Man, Minnehoma and Charter Party to victory in The Grand National, The Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Irish Grand National and The King George VI Rank Chase. You couldn't wish to be in better hands before the off."


As the leaders of the international equestrian exploration community, the Long Riders’ Guild does not believe that Mr. Dunwoody’s experiences as an English jockey qualify him to be placed in this position of trust. Not only does he lack any experience in Mongolia, he was recently involved in a publicized event where sixteen pay-to-ride tourists rode their horses until they were lame and exhausted.



What oversights will the FEI offer so as to ensure that the contestants are well and truly trained prior to the race? Will Morgan be willing to have Dunwoody’s role circumvented by FEI endurance experts?
7) Not being an endurance rider, I am confused about this FEI rule which states “Draw (Running)Reins/French Reins are forbidden.”

Yet Morgan’s website states, "At each Urtuu you will whip the saddle and tack from one horse to the next. However, we will be asking people to bring their own bridles, reins and any extra you may want such as martingales."

Will the FEI clarify this point with Morgan?


8) As you must be aware, Morgan has radically changed his tune in regards to providing water to the horses and riders. "As for water, the course will frequently take you across rivers, where you can fill up your gourds."


“They're going to give us GPS locations to the wells, where we'll be able to get water, and they don't guarantee that the wells will have water,” contestant Tara Reddy said.


How will the FEI deal with the logistics of providing water to nearly one thousand horses in an area which borders the Gobi desert? Will Morgan pay to provide confirmed sources of water dropped in advance at each of the stations?


Ian, as these questions and concerns demonstrate, upon reflection there are a number of alarming problems involved in having the FEI offer their expertise, services and personnel to Morgan.


Which in turn leads to the ultimate question.


9) What will the FEI do if Morgan refuses to cooperate and chooses instead to continue to ignore the basic principles enshrined in FEI endurance rules?


We look forward to learning how you view these concerns, and trust that you will inform the Guild of how they were addressed after your meeting with Morgan on Friday.


Best wishes,

CuChullaine O’Reilly FRGS

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