A Cirencester man is taking part in the world’s longest horse race to raise money for a local charity.
Chris Walker is competing in the Mongol Derby, which gets underway on Saturday.
He is one of 46 riders from 10 different countries who will race 1,000km through the Mongolian Steppe.
Known as the world’s longest and toughest horse race, competitors use local herder’s ponies and change them every 40km to recreate the messenger system used by Genghis Khan in the 13th century.
Only half the participants, who are responsible for self-navigating between each horse station and stay overnight with local Mongolian families, typically complete the journey – such are the mental and physical challenges involved.
While the Mongol Derby is ostensibly a race, there are a number of rules to follow. Riding hours are restricted and at each horse station the veterinary team will scrutinise every horse ridden and have the power to impose time penalties if any have been mistreated.
Riders can weigh no more than 85kg and carry only 5kg of supplies with them.
Chris has been undertaking pre-race training in recent days, which includes practising navigation skills, learning about the horses and getting tips from the Mongolian herders.
He has taken on the challenge to raise money for Watershed Riding for the Disabled. As he has funded the significant race entry fee himself, all donations will go towards the Coates-based charity.
They are part of of the national Riding for the Disabled Association, who provide opportunities for disabled children and adults to take part in riding activities.
“I am delighted to be trying to complete this ultimate equine challenge and to be raising money for such a worthy charity,” said Chris.
“I know how horses can change lives and The Watershed do such good work.”