Is Duke the highest shire in the UK?

SHIRE horse Duke is hoping to plough his way into the record books as the tallest equine in the world.

SHIRE horse Duke is hoping to plough his way into the record books as the tallest equine in the world.

The hefty 19.3 hand shire horse weighs more than a family car and cost as much to run - an eye watering £80 a week.

The heavyweight five-year-old horse is certainly the mane attraction at the animal sanctuary where he lives and has taken over the reigns of the tallest horse in Britain title, which is was held by a 19h 2ins shire called Cracker until his death last year (2007).

Sara Ross, who runs The Horse Refuge in Finchingfield near Braintree, said he's a contender for the tallest horse in the world.

She said: "He's the biggest horse I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few horses over the years.

"We've measured him and he's 19.3 hands. He's an absolute giant, he's huge.

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"We rescued him about 18 months ago and he's grown and grown. He's only five-years-old so he hasn't stopped growing yet."

The current Guinness World Record for the tallest horse is held by Radar, a Canadian shire horse who stands just over 19.3 hands - 6ft 6ins at the shoulder.

Mrs Ross has high hopes for her handsome horse is hot on the hooves of Radar's record.

She added: "Everyone who comes to see him cannot believe their eyes, he's massive.

"He's well over 19 hands already and still growing, it's difficult to measure him because we haven't got a measuring stick big enough, but I'm sure he's a record breaker.

"He's had trouble with his leg so we are going to see if he can be ridden - whoever rides him will certainly need a head for heights."

Despite his size the gentle giant gets on well with even the smallest of stablemates at the sanctuary and he has a soft spot for Shetland pony Jasper.

Mrs Ross said: "He's a real sweetheart, he loves plenty of affection and attention.

"He's a big baby at heart. He's scared of mice, he doesn't like it when it rains and he hated the snow."

Duke's massive size means a specially adapted stable had to be built for him because he could not fit into a standard one and his rugs all have to be made to measure.

The hungry horse munches his way through two large buckets of feed each day as well as a whole bale of hay.

Mrs Ross added: "He costs us a fortune to feed, he can really pack it away. He has a pasture mix, fibre chaff and sugar beet in the winter.

"We have to bring him in at night because he'd eat all the grass in the field, so we give him hay, a bale at a time."

The behemoth bay towers over his 5ft 5ins owner and would even put an average 17.2 hands shire horse in the shade.

Duke is not the county's only giant pet. At 7ft 3ins Tiny the Great Dane towers over his owner Iain Newby and would even stare down at lanky footballer Peter Crouch.

To contact The Horse Refuge can be contacted on 01371 810490 or log on to www.thehorserefuge.org

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