The term Standardbred originates from the standard set in 1879 by the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders in America, whereby a horse had to trot a distance of one mile in not more than 2' 30" to qualify for registration in the new breed. The mile has remained the usual distance of harness racing today.
The Standardbred breed dates back over 200 years. An English grey Thoroughbred called Messenger was foaled in 1780 and in 1788 it was exported to America by Thomas Benger. Messenger was the great-grandsire of Hambletonian 10 to whom most Standardbreds can trace their heritage. He stood at stud for twenty seasons. He sired many well known Thoroughbreds and his descendants soon dominated American racecourses. In Britain trotters have been racing for over 100 years.
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