How fast are horses?

A young, fit and healthy horse typically gallops at a speed between 25 and 30 miles per hour, on average, but the even the slowest of the world records set by different breeds of horse, over different distances, is significantly faster. The American Quarter Horse, a short, stocky, heavily muscled breed, is reputedly the fastest kind of horse, albeit over short distances.

Indeed, in 2005, A Long Goodbye clocked 20.69 seconds for two furlongs, or a quarter-of-a-mile, at Sunland Park Racetrack in New Mexico, thereby setting a new world record of 43.85 miles per hour. However, the horse currently recognised by Guinness World Records as the fastest horse ever is Winning Brew, not an American Quarter Horse but a Thoroughbred, who clocked 20.57 seconds, or the equivalent of 43.97 miles per hour, over the same distance at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania.

Of course, in Britain, the minimum distance for any official horse race is five furlongs, or five-eights of a mile. The world record for this distance is 53.69 seconds, or the equivalent of 41.94 miles per hour, clocked by another Thoroughbred, Stone Of Folca, at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey in 2012. In fact, by shaving just one-hundredth of a second off the previous record, set by Spark Chief over the same course and distance in 1983, Stone Of Folca clocked the fastest time since the introduction of electronic timing; prior to that, another Thoroughbred, Indigenous, clocked 53.60 seconds, albeit hand-timed, over the same course and distance.

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