An Important Message from Rider Director Camille Champagne
My name is Camille Champagne Bargenquast, and I am a 31-year-old French-Australian.
I came to Australia as a 20-year old with only $100 in my pocket with a job as an endurance rider for an excellent endurance stable.
My hard work paid off, and as a result, I went to Malaysia with the Australian endurance team.
I spent a month in Malaysia training one horse for the Australian team (and one for his Majesty after he required my services through my boss. But politics says I was there with my country, not Malaysia so I’d rather not talk about it).
I worked very hard as I was given a valuable opportunity to learn from the best: Brook Sample. During my time at Brookleigh Stud, I became very close to Brookleigh Excalibur, a horse that changed my life. He became Australia’s best horse winning the Tom Quilty three times, one of which I was his trainer. It was a very fun and successful time in my career.
Some of my greatest achievements to date are placing 7th in the Manila Tom Quilty with Shaah and 4th in the Kilkivan Tom Quilty with Maxi. Another dream of mine was competing in Walvis Bay in Namibia. I went there and competed in 2017 only two weeks before the inaugural Gobi Desert Cup. I came in 10th at Walvis Bay and had an extraordinary ride! It was tough but so much fun and with a great horse!
I also traveled to Mongolia to complete in a 1000 km horse ride where locals witnessed my love for the sport of endurance, my passion for horses and my intrepid spirit. I love traveling, meeting new people and learning the culture. There is nothing greater than walking in someone else’s shoes, discovering their lifestyle, culture, beliefs, and cuisine. I fell in love with Mongolia and her people.
As a result of this love, I founded The Gobi Desert Cup from my home in Australia’s outback, on the Northern Territory border 250 kilometers from the nearest town. Living in the outback means hot days, slow internet, and seclusion. These coupled with no prior experience running an event were significant challenges to face.
Slowly we gathered information, did a lot of research, and spoke to incredible people around the globe who had ridden with me in Mongolia. All of them, endurance riders, business owner, veterinarians, ride organisers, friends.
It is my ambition to bring international horse welfare to Mongolia while educating the locals, creating jobs, and providing sustainability for their nomadic culture. All of this while building a global endurance race 480 kilometers in six days and featuring talented endurance riders and horsemen with a taste for adventure from the four corners of the world.
Our head veterinarian, Dr. Ann Lammens, has been with us from the start in 2017 and has been a great asset to us. Passionate about the sport of endurance, Mongolia, and adventure she makes sure we maintain the international horse welfare standards.
Ann also spends time educating the riders and work with them on the course or at the vet gate.
She is a very ambitious woman currently expanding her veterinary practice located in the South of France. She is a pleasure to work with, energetic, proactive, and always has her hair looking great. She has become family.
Another incredible asset is our media guru, Heather Wallace. If you wonder what a superhero looks like in daylight? Well, she is it. Married with three beautiful girls, two dogs, a horse, she has a publishing business, is a qualified equine and canine sports massage therapist, a blogger and award-winning author.
Heather has taken us to a different level with modern marketing and branding, including capturing the event in photography and sharing ride updates on social media. What we love most about Heather is her passion, her great attitude, and the fun atmosphere she creates to bring us all together.
Naranbaatar Adiya whom I like to call “Nara, my Brother” is the gentleman responsible for everything that happens in Mongolia. He is a leading professor and veterinarian, as well as the breeder. Nara and I have defied the odds! Together we broke so many barriers, like the language barriers as English is a second language for both of us. There is also the culture barrier. While Nara’s favourite drink is fermented mare’s milk, mine is wine.
We have a very different culture, lifestyle, and languages. We’ve managed to create a very strong and successful endurance event. We did not spare any sweat nor tears, and it was a lot of hard work, uncertainty, and stress. But worth every moment.
Nara and I are passionate about the slowly disappearing Mongolian lifestyle and love the idea of creating a yearly income for them. We hire over 130 horses each from local herders, which we also train at our training centre in the Kentthi region.
Riders find themselves secluded from the modern world. They face a different challenge each day as they mount a new horse. They require horsemanship, communication, and survival skills. The lords in Mongolia have many tricks they do not fear to use. I often say: “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong because this is Mongolia.”
The race will test you emotionally and physically, you will have slow days, you will be tired, you will be sore, or your horse will be fast when you feel like going fast!
This event shows you how strong you are, physically and mentally. We support our riders on course and motivate them as they hit the wall. It is a journey from the moment you sign up until the end of the race, and beyond. We support our riders every step of the way.
When people get out of their comfort zone and do something they are scared of great things happen. People are transformed, they go home and achieve great things.
The Gobi Desert Cup is a way of being socially responsible; doing something positive and meaningful for the locals and riders, and making the world a better place while having fun along the way.
We are now accepting applications for our 2019 race, 27 August- 6 September, 2019. Be part of a race that makes a difference.