How Thoroughbreds Can All Be Traced Back to Three Sires
The English Thoroughbred history is one that extends far back in time; with records indicating that stocks of Arab and Barb horses were introduced to the country as early as the 3rd Century!
It was during the reigns of James I and Charles I that 43 Royal Mares were imported into England, and this is when the General Stud Book record was begun. In it are inscribed only the horses that can be traced back to these mares in a direct line or to just three sires that ended up in England as well.
When you consider the legacy these animals left by mere happenstance and sheer good luck, it becomes more conceivable how many people spin to win at new online Roulette tables and walk away with much more than they bargained for!
The Byerley Turk, 1689
The most popular Byerley Turk origin story is that he was captured at the 1686 Battle of Buda and was then brought to England by the Duke of Berwick. What we know for sure is that he was Captain Robert Byerley’s warhorse, assisting him during King William’s War and the Battle of the Boyne. Early records indicate that the Captain was almost captured while surveying the enemy but escaped thanks to the speed of his mount!
The Byerley Turk was either dark brown or black, of an unknown breed officially but described as an Arabian in historic accounts. He was apparently an elegant animal and was as courageous as he was fast. Many of his offspring today are of the same colouring.
The Darley Arabian, Post 1700
Sheikh Mirza II of the Fedan Bedouins owned a fine bay colt who caught the eye of Thomas Darley, a British Consul, merchant, and member of a local hunting club. The story goes that Darley arranged to buy the horse when he was a yearling for 300 gold sovereigns, but the Sheikh reneged on the deal while Darley was awaiting delivery. The Consul knew the right people, however, and managed to arrange with some sailors to acquire his prize and smuggle him back to England via Smyrna in 1704.
The Godolphin Arabian, Imported Around 1730
The Godolphin Arabian was foaled in roughly 1724 in Yemen and moved several times before he ended up in England, where he was bought by Francis, the 2nd Earl of Godolphin. He was a bay with some white in him and stood at 15 hands, distinguished further by an unusually high crest, which is noticeable in portraits of the horse. Most of his immediate offspring share his colouring.
William Osmer, a veterinary surgeon of that period, described the Godolphin Arabian as the best-entitled racehorse he’d ever seen. He described his deep shoulders laying farther into his back than those of his counterparts and said that behind these was a tiny space where his loin muscles rode exceedingly broad and high and expanded. He stated that these were then inserted into his quarters with more power and strength than in any horse he had yet seen.