What would happen if a horse raced nine of the world's fastest animals?
We used science (and our imaginations) to find out. Punters, let us introduce you to the Betway Animal Kingdom Cup…
The Animal Kingdom Cup is a fantasy flat race that features 10 of the world’s fastest animals competing against each other over a two-mile, four-furlong (4,023 metres) track.
Read our infographic to see who the contenders are – and find out their horse racing betting odds – before watching our brilliant animated video to see which animal wins the prestigious race.
Watch the Betway Animal Kingdom Cup video below
Ten animals are on the start line, but the crowd’s eyes are fixed on only one: the cheetah.
It's not just the fans, either. Every brand wants a piece of the world’s fastest land mammal.
The cheetah goes through his usual pre-race routine – Born to Run on repeat through his Beats headphones – even if the length of the course means he cannot win.
He can, however, put on an electrifying display for his sponsors.
The cheetah reaches 70mph in just three seconds, a speed so fast that if you were sitting close enough, you would feel the wind on your skin as he passes by.
He leaves the other nine animals in his wake, including the lion, who is only here because such a momentous occasion demands the presence of the king of the jungle.
The lion has no chance of winning, although he'd known that when he signed up.
But there are also a couple of dismal-looking creatures ahead of him. That he cannot abide.
Having gone 100m at 33mph, the tiring lion concludes that he’s given the people – and organisers – enough of his time already.
The cheetah comes to the same conclusion shortly after, exiting the race having completed 300m in 12.7 remarkable seconds.
Hare and Hound
The last thing the brown hare’s wife said to him before he left the burrow that morning?
Make sure you get home in one piece.
Her concern was understandable. The brown hare had been troubled ever since that ruddy tortoise had embarrassed him all those years ago.
But as he bounded gleefully along at 45mph, the wind blowing pleasantly between his ears, the brown hare was feeling like his old self again.
Then he senses the presence of an old nemesis.
The greyhound has been fixated on the brown hare ever since the race started.
Galloping along at 38mph, he is close enough to his target. As soon he tires – which would be somewhere around the 300m mark – he will pounce.
Remembering his wife’s last words, the brown hare realises he has to do something.
Then it comes to him: make the flat race into a jumps race.
From nowhere, the brown hare leaps magnificently into the air. He clears the six-foot rail that separates the spectators and animals and lands safely onto the other side.
The greyhound endeavours to continue, but struggles for motivation with nothing left to chase.
At the 500m stage, he comes to the conclusion that his race is run.
Black Rhino, White Flag
A mile in, the race has an unlikely – and reluctant – leader: the black rhino, who still doesn't really understand what's going on.
He’d heard a loud roar, which had startled him and made him charge.
That was roughly two minutes ago, in which time he’d trundled just over a mile of the track at 34mph.
Surely he was safe by now? He hoped so, anyway.
Hot and bothered, and wanting nothing more than to cool down in some mud, the black rhino becomes the fifth animal not to last the pace.
The horse is under pressure. He has to perform in what is effectively a home fixture.
Thankfully, after the rhino had tanked, he is now in front and poised to claim his greatest victory.
Or so he thinks.
Four-hundred metres behind, the fourth-place pronghorn is plotting something spectacular.
Having jogged the first mile at a cool 27mph, the fastest land mammal in North America has simply been waiting for the right time to up his speed.
And with a mile and a half to go – a distance he can comfortably sprint – that time is now.
The pronghorn quickly reaches 55mph and, within 20 seconds, zooms past the ostrich, the brown bear and, cruelly for the race leader, the horse.
From there, it's a procession. The pronghorn relentlessly maintains his speed for the remainder of the race, finishing the 4,023m course in just under four minutes.
Around 30 seconds later, the horse – who increases his speed to 35mph for the final two furlongs – follows in second place.
While devastated, the horse knows deep down that he has been beaten by the better animal.
In an image that will later be posted on several Twitter accounts alongside clapping emojis, the winner and runner-up reveal their respect for each another by bumping hooves.
Bear and Bird
You can’t outrun a (brown) bear, or so the saying went. That archaic theory had been emphatically disproved in this race.
Now, the humbled bear finds himself in a race for third with the most ridiculous-looking thing he’s ever seen. It's a bird that can't fly, and whose neck is longer than its legs.
Thankfully, he is about 15m in front, and knows he can maintain 31mph for the duration of the race.
The ostrich was used to being ridiculed. That’s why this race was so important – a strong performance might just be enough to finally gain some respect.
Despite not being renowned for her intelligence, she had hatched a plan: stay close to the bear, before overtaking him on the home straight.
With 300m to go, the ostrich goes for it. And it works!
After increasing her speed to 43mph, she flies past the bear (not literally) and clinches third place in just under five minutes.
"Not bad for a bird," the brown bear remarks as he follows shortly behind in fourth.
That, the ostrich thinks to herself, is progress.
As they wait for the winner’s ceremony to begin, the pronghorn, horse, ostrich and brown bear congratulate each other on their respective performances, and exchange jokes at the expense of the big cats who’d failed to finish the race.
Eventually, they are joined by the race’s final finisher.
"This is heaps good, ay?" the kangaroo says as he clinches fifth place.
Having hopped the first 300m at 30mph, he’d cruised the remainder of the race at 20mph, eventually completing it in seven-and-a-half minutes.
The kangaroo hadn’t been brought up to believe not winning was worth celebrating, but he's not going to let that stop him.
"Now that’s over," he asks the others, "who fancies a schooey?"