Seconded. Hold down W and use A&D for steering, just use the mouse to look where you're going. If you can, don't slow down. Keep the meter on the right at full for the whole race. Using A&D will help, just keep your eyes open for more obstacles. Most of them you can get around without much of a penalty to your time. I finished that quest with 30 seconds to spare using this method.
Back to the thread, having said that, I wouldn't mind requesting an option to freeze the timer. I wouldn't mind doing some more of the horse races, but I really hate timers. There's a couple other timed missions in the game which you can't avoid too.
[Edited by Skyheart, 11/13/2010 9:26:19 PM]
Thing is, I tried that already and still failed the quest.
I'm having such a bad luck in it. I keep running into bushes and such.
It's a wonder how my horse can easily knock aside a charging fullsized adult male Rhino, knock an entire wall of barrels and chests, and yet a simple twig stops it dead in its tracks.