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Ban’ei – The World’s Slowest Horse Race

Horse races are usually all about speed, but in Ban’ei, a form of horse racing unique to the Japanese island of Hokkaidō, it’s strength and stamina that matter most.

Ban’ei race horses, also known as ‘banba’, are very different from the fast thoroughbreds we associate with horse racing. They can weigh up to 1,200 kilograms and are more than twice the size of the small dosanko horses native to Hokkaidō. These horses are crossbred descendants of workhorses imported from France and Belgium at the end of the 19th century to help farmers work their land, and are now considered a Japanese breed in their own right. Depending on their size, these strong animals can pull up to a ton of weight, and that’s exactly the kind of strength required to win the world’s slowest horse race.

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