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Study Shows Racehorses Getting Faster

Thursday, 25th June 2015

Racehorses are getting faster, contrary to a common view that thoroughbred speeds have plateaued, reports Yahoo News. That is the conclusion of scientists at the University of Exeter in England who looked at a dataset of 616,084 British flat races run by 70,388 horses and discovered race-winning speeds have increased significantly since 1850, especially over shorter distances. The study found, for example, that an elite thoroughbred will win by an average of seven-lengths, or 1.18 seconds faster, now over 1200 metres than in 1997. However, the improvement over middle and longer distances was slower, suggesting horses may be reaching a performance limit at this distance range. "There has been a general consensus over the last 30 years that horse speeds appear to be stagnating," said Patrick Sharman, of the university's Centre for Ecology and Conservation. "Our study shows that this is not the case, and by using a much larger dataset than previously analysed, we have revealed that horses have been getting faster." He added: "The historical and current rate of improvement is greatest over sprint distances. The challenge now is to find out whether this pattern of improvement has a genetic basis."

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