Tyler Donaldson-Aitken’s pedigree includes a Group 1 winning jockey and countless hours in the saddle training and educating horses, assets he hope has him ready to challenge the 1000km Mongol Derby.
The annual event which resumes in 2022 after a two year hiatus, recreates and follows the postal route used by Genghis Khan in the 13th century and is recognised as the longest horse race in the world where contestants change horses each 25km riding up to 100km a day.
The Ballarat based horseman will be leaning on the lessons taught by his father, Stan Aitken, twice champion apprentice of Victoria who guided outstanding three-year-old Taj Rossi to victory in the 1973 Cox Plate and Cantala Stakes.
“He taught me how to ride about how to ride trackwork, how to really read a horse and pretty much keep yourself safe,” Donaldson-Aitken said.
‘He rode a lot of good horses and has a lot of experience, I mean riding for a long time, so for me he was able to pass on some of that when I wasn’t too much of a smart ass, and that sort of set me up for being able to know what I know.”
The Derby will present a new set of challenges for the young Donaldson-Aitken who will be using the race not only as a test of character but as a dedication to a cause close to home.
“I’m looking to raise money for two charities focused on brain cancer as my sister passed away in 2020 as a result of a brain tumor,” he said.
“The two charities are Beanie for Brain Cancer and Curebraincancer.org.au, for me I thought it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness for that and hopefully you know push those charities and anyone who wants to donate I think it’d be very good cause.
“I think what I’d achieve from doing the derby is pretty much coming out the other side with a fair bit of knowledge on who I sort of am as a person, a little bit better than what I am now.
“You know being able to push myself and go through the challenges there and sort of learn what I can as a result of doing the race, I think you know I think I’m going to get a lot out of it personally.
Australians have a rich history in the Mongol Derby with four taking out the race, the most notable Wangaratta’s Adrian Corboy who teamed with trainer Annabel Neasham in 2018 to claim the event.
Sam Doran, Racing.com
Note: Tyler has been educating ATB horses for the past few years, including breaking-in and pre-training.
The journey didn’t get off to the best start, with Qantas losing part of his luggage (all his riding gear) on the trip over – to ease his pain a little, fellow riders helped out and he was able to ride away on the first day, as the photo attached suggests.