Origins of British Bloodstock

Claud Cockborn explains how British bloodstock has its origins in a small group of Arab horses first imported in the seventeenth century.

The statement that every thoroughbred horse in the world is the descendant, in the direct male line, of one of three stallions imported into England during the very late seventeenth and very early eighteenth centuries is at once commonplace and startling. Commonplace because the truth of the statement has been demonstrated over and over again: nobody now doubts that these three horses—the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerley Turk, each attaining fame after adventurous experiences in early and even middle life—were really the ancestors of every horse that today runs on any racecourse from Kempton Park to Sydney and Saratoga. Startling because, although well established, it still challenges an explanation. Full explanation, at so great a distance in time, is probably impossible. We can examine, nevertheless, some contributory factors; and while examining them, we come face to face with such different historical motifs as military strategy, social fashions and the human gambling instinct—all potent, all inter-related, all brought, into momentary connection by the Horse.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.



Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week