Carbon fibre stirrups win by a nose
British motorsport specialist, Prodrive, has designed lightweight horse racing stirrups made from carbon fibre to help make the world's lightest jump racing saddle.
The stirrups weigh just 40 grams, less than the weight of a packet of crisps, and are half the weight of standard aluminium racing stirrups, helping the whole racing saddle to weigh in at just 600 grams. Developed for Alan Webb Racing saddles, they are currently being use by top jump jockeys including Tony McCoy, Richard Johnson, Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald, helping them to shave off the fractions of a second needed to win.
As well as being lighter, the carbon fibre stirrups are also stronger. The stirrups have a safe working load of 600 kg, nearly 10 times the weight of an average jockey, and in tests have withstood a load of 1.8 tonnes before complete failure.
"Today's horse racing is like motor racing: weight is critical," said Prodrive senior composites engineer, Roger Walker. "Every ounce the jockeys can save represents thousandths of a second off the finishing time, which can be the difference between winning and losing by a nose. Jockeys even wear lightweight tights to save weight."
Prodrive manufactures the stirrups alongside the carbon composite components it makes for its own Aston Martin racing cars and Subaru rally cars. It also manufactures components for the aerospace and marine industries.