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Scientists overturn idea racehorses can't get any faster

Racehorses are reaching faster and faster speeds, scientists have found, overturning research which suggested they had reached their galloping limit.

A team from the University of Exeter studied a total of 616,084 races run by more than 70,000 horses, with a broader focus on sprint races.

Racehorses are reaching ever-faster speeds, the study found Credit: PA

Previous research, which suggested speeds had reached a plateau, had largely concentrated on a small number of middle- to long-distance races.

It is not yet known whether the faster pace is down to breeding, better training, better jockeys, or a combination of these.

Researcher Dr Patrick Sharman said:

There has been a general consensus over the last 30 years that horse speeds appeared to be stagnating.

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. Interestingly, both 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.

– Dr Patrick Sharman, University of Exeter

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Professor: Philae lander news like being a new mother

Professor Monica Grady has likened the news the Philae lander is awake to a combination of winning the lottery, being a new mother and her wedding day.

The Open University professor, who worked on the project, said: "This is really, really, tremendous news. I cant get across how excited and happy I am."

"We've been waiting since November for this to happen. My reaction when I received the news was is it true? I was trembling."

She said the team would now have to wait for the lander to warm up before continuing with their experiments.

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