Forget anabolic steroids, scientists in Australia have come up with a sure-fire — and perfectly legal — way to give your racehorse the winning edge: titanium shoes.

Racing plates are traditionally made from aluminium and weigh around 1kg, but researchers at the country’s national science agency, CSIRO, say the titanium shoes weigh just half that.

“This means a horse could travel at new speeds,” said Melbourne trainer John Moloney, one of whose horses was the first to be fitted with a set of customised shoes.

“We’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance.”

But unless you have very wealthy owners, the cost is likely to be prohibitive — the prototype came in at an eye-watering 600 Australian dollars (£355) a set.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (7 November 2013)