Horse Racing

Arthur Dobell on His Mongol Derby Adventure

Arthur Dobell is back to the day job having completed the Mongol Derby, although at the sales this week it was obvious he had not emerged from the event unscathed. 

The bloodstock agent, who has worked at studs around the world and been assisting Newmarket-based Oliver St Lawrence for the last two years, had his arm in a sling at the Tattersalls Somerville Sale, but on the brighter side, has helped raise vital funds for Retraining of Racehorses and Steppe and Hoof, a charity which looks after the welfare of Mongolian horses.

The Mongol Derby is billed as the world’s longest and toughest horse race and requires riders to navigate 1,000 kilometers of the Mongolian Steppe. The course is modeled on the postal route and system developed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, with competitors changing their horses regularly and staying with local herders or camping under the stars.  

Dobell, whose participation last month was supported by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s Victorious Racing, said: “We haven’t totted it all up yet, but I think about £7,000 has been raised. It was great and I really loved it, although it was tough as we were riding for 12 hours a day. 

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“Some of the horses weren’t as easy as I’d have liked them to be, but in general it was a great experience. 

“It was ten days long and you need to average about 120 km a day if you want to finish. That’s about three or four horses a day; some of those had no will to go so you’d be doing a slow trot for 40 km! But there were also some lovely horses who cantered for 30 km non-stop and it felt like you were flying.”

The chances of not coming a cropper at some point during such a grueling test are slim, and the class of 2023, from many different countries and a variety of backgrounds, proved no exception. 

“I think we all had a few sticky moments,” reported Dobell, 27, who worked hard to squeeze his 6 feet 5 inch frame down to the weight limit of 85 kg in riding gear.

“One guy got dropped—the rule was if you lost your horse within 10 km of the day’s finish they’d drive you to the next station. He got dropped between the two and didn’t know whether to go and find the horse or go back or forward. They found the horse but he refused to be remounted.

“As for myself, I was 15 km from the end and the horse came down underneath me. It was odd as I had some horrible falls early on, when I was bucked off while galloping, and didn’t have a scratch on me. But this time the horse came down under a slow trot and I broke my elbow.

“He was absolutely fine but probably a bit shocked!”

Dobell, who walked over the finishing line with horse in hand, has a JustGiving page that remains live for any further donations to help support RoR and Steppe and Hoof.


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