British motorsport specialist, Prodrive, is best known for its race car preparation on the Subaru World Rally team, Ferrari and Aston Martin GT cars, etc. However, it recently has designed lightweight horse racing stirrups made from carbon fiber to help make the world's lightest jump racing saddle.
The stirrups weigh just 40 grams (1.4oz) and are half the weight of standard aluminum racing stirrups, helping the whole saddle weigh in at just 600 grams (21oz).
Developed for Alan Webb Racing saddles, the stirrups are currently being use by top jump jockeys including Tony McCoy, Richard Johnson, Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald, helping them shave off the fractions of a second needed to win.
As well as being lighter, the carbon fiber stirrups are also stronger. The stirrups have a safe working load of 1320 lb, nearly 10 times the weight of an average jockey, and in tests have withstood a load of 1.7 tons before 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 clothing 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.
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