Racing’s record holders | The biggest, fastest and the longest

Features | 21st September 2021

Racing's little Guinness World Book of Records. Find out who makes the list of record holders in the sport.

Racing is a sport that lends itself to in-depth stats and records. It’s becoming increasingly important for everyone in the sport including trainers, jockeys and pundits using stats and analysis more and more.

Whether it’s the fastest, biggest, longest or oldest, the stats thrown up by the sport would satisfy the most diligent of anoraks.

There are some famous names that make the list but there are a number of record holders that will come as a surprise. 

Racing’s record holders

Winning streaks

Legendary racehorse Eclipse was unbeaten in 18 races in the 18th century before retiring to stud due to a lack of credible opposition. It is estimated he covered around 1,400 miles just walking to the races. He still has an influence to this very day as he appears in the pedigree of most modern thoroughbreds.

More recently, Frankel ‐ possibly the greatest Flat horse ‐ went through his career unbeaten winning all 14 races over three seasons. Sir Henry’s Cecil’s superstar made it 10 Group 1 victories when landing the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on his final race in 2012 before heading to stud.

The European record for consecutive races won is held by Hungarian mare Kincsem. She won all 54 races, mostly in Hungary, Germany and Austria, but she did travel to Britain to win the 1878 Goodwood Cup.

Australian greats Winx (33) and Black Caviar (25) both racked up impressive winning streaks in recent years.

Nicky Henderson’s recently retired, dual Champion Chaser Altior holds the record over jumps. He won 19 consecutive races before suffering defeat when runner‐up behind Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in 2019.

Most prizemoney won

With the huge purses on offer for the biggest races around the world it’s no surprise one of racing’s globetrotters is the highest earner among British‐trained horses.

Thunder Snow’s debut win at Leicester was his only victory on a British racecourse but, thanks mainly to his two Dubai World Cup successes in 2018 and 2019, Saeed bin Suroor’s star tops the high earners at £12.6million.

Enable – winner of two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes – isn’t far behind. John Gosden’s mare won £10.7million during her four‐year career. The British pair are still behind the biggest money earners.

Within the space of four months American‐trained Arrogate won three of the world’s most valuable races when landing the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. Saudi Cup winner Mishriff could easily top the lot if he races beyond this season.

Thunder Snow and Christophe Soumillon winning The Dubai World Cup
Thunder Snow and Christophe Soumillon winning The Dubai World Cup

Oldest horses

Flat Everyone loves a golden oldie and racing has had its fair share of impressive pensioners. Megalala holds the post‐war record for the oldest winner in British Flat racing. He was a 15‐year‐old when he notched up his 20th win at Lingfield in 2016.

When he retired the following year he had run in 148 races. He was trained throughout his career by John Bridger and, although he ran mostly in lower grades, his name won’t be forgotten for as long as his record stands.


Racing fans of a certain vintage go all misty‐eyed with the mention of Sonny Somers. Trained by Fred Winter in Lambourn, he helped give some of the sport’s top jockeys, including John Francome, a valuable education in their formative years.

Sonny Somers was 18‐years‐old when he won chases at Southwell and Lingfield in 1980. In those last years of his career his riders were often of a similar age.

Sonny Somers
Sonny Somers

Fastest horse

There have been some seriously quick horses burning up the tracks in recent years but none quicker than Stone Of Folca. He holds the official record for the fastest five furlongs. His record‐breaking run came in the Dash at Epsom on Derby day in 2012 when he was the outsider of the entire 20 runner‐field.

The sharpest of sprint tracks played into his hands as he scorched home for a shock victory. The clock stopped at 53.69 seconds, meaning he averaged 41.9mph during the race.

Trained by John Best, it was only the second victory of his career. Incredibly, he would never win again but he remains the fastest of them all.

The recently retired Battaash was touted by many in his pomp as the fastest horse in the world. He reached a top speed of 45.5mph in the 2020 King George at Goodwood, a race he won in devastating fashion in all four of his victories.

Oldest jockey

Irishman Harry Beasley Snr is credited with being the oldest jockey to ride in a race. He was supposedly into the veteran stage of his career when he rode and trained Come Away to win the 1891 Grand National but he went on to ride for another 42 years.

His final ride was in the Corinthian Plate at Baldoyle racecourse, near Dublin, when he was 83‐years‐ old. In recent years, American jockey Frank Amonte had his last ride in 2011 when he was 76‐years‐old.

oldest jockey, racing's record holders
Frank Amonte in 1952 (left) and in 2011 (right)

Youngest jockey

One rather astonishing record is the youngest professional jockey. Some records suggests that it was a 10‐year‐old, who later rose to fame in a totally different field.

George Formby, the ukulele‐playing singer‐songwriter, actor and comedian of the 1930s and 40s was, at one point, Britain’s highest‐paid entertainer.

Racing records show when he had his first ride at Lingfield in 1915 making him the youngest ever professional jockey. The greatest of all, Lester Piggott, was 12‐years‐old when he won his first race on The Chase at Haydock in 1948. He was 59 when he rode his last winner in 1994.

These days, jockeys have to be 16 before they can ride in races. In August this year, trainer Fergal O’Brien’s daughter Fern rode her first winner two days after her 16th birthday when Lord P was successful at Carlisle making her one of the youngest of modern times.

Fergal O'Brien and Fern O'Brien
Fergal O'Brien and Fern O'Brien