The Best Racing Horse Breeds: An Overview

There’s nothing to say that with the luck of the genetic draw, any combination of horse breeds can birth the champion nag of tomorrow. However, over the years, there are some breeds that have risen to the top of the crop and shown time after time that they are horses with a natural predilection towards being champion runners. Here are five of them that have shown time and again that they possess the stuff of champions.


Known for their agility, pace, and fortitude, thoroughbreds have been a staple gene pool in the history of champion horse racing. The breed first emerged in England, where it’s thought that mares in the indigenous horse population were bred with stallions imported from Arabia. They’re most known in equestrian circles for their racing ability, but the breed also lends itself to success in polo, show jumping, fox hunting, and dressage, making them a true sporting all-rounder. They continue to be used as a genetic canvass for people trying to attempt specialised breeding today in a testament to the quality of their stock.

American Quarter

The American quarter horse is a jack of all trades, whose strength lies in its ability to adapt to many different equestrian disciplines whilst maintaining a stable and reliable temperament. As well as racing, the breed is utilised by mounted law enforcement units who require horses that can remain calm amid pressure and chaos, as well as those pursuing trail riding. They are particularly prevalent in North American equestrian culture, consistently triumphing in rodeos, cowboy exhibitions, and other marquee spectacles. They are tied to the land, being native to the States after settlers bred the horses they brought from Europe with the native breeds, and were a staple for frontiersmen who helped settle the American West.


This is possibly the most famous breed of horse in the world. The Arab world has had horse racing for thousands of years, and this legendary breed dates just as far back into history. This part of the world has always been fanatical about horse racing, with the sport patronised heavily by the monarchies of the region, in prestigious tournaments where kingdoms spared no expense vying for the glory of great victory. The genus has been carefully preserved over the years, and the sleek horse has variously proved itself adept at racing, jumping, hunting, dressage, trail riding, and other utilitarian roles. Of particular note is the fact that historically only the mares were employed for fighting and hunting, with the males held back purely for stud purposes.


Paint horses come from the stock brought over to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors. Once loose, they bred with the indigenous horse populations that roamed the plains and prairies, siring a breed that became especially sought after amongst Native American tribes. As well as being fleet of foot, the breed is known for their agreeable temperaments marked by a relaxed character, hard work ethic, and inquisitive nature. They have distinguished themselves as a particularly intuitive and intelligent breed of the horse over the years.


Hailing from North America, these distinguished horses were bred over time by the Nez Perce Native American tribe. They’re a versatile horse with a positive disposition. While they have picked up a reputation for being stubborn of character, the flipside to this may be that they are extremely dextrous and hard-working beasts that don’t give up easily and are famed for their endurance. These strengths have made them a favourite across a variety of equestrian sports, including racing, riding, and show jumping.