The Thoroughbred is one of the most brilliant and versatile horses bred in the world today. It is mostly noted for its speed on the race track, but also has great ability in hunting, polo, eventing and jumping. The Thoroughbred has been used to create new breeds of horses and to up-grade others. The key to the Thoroughbred's greatness is its great speed and endurance, for which it has been bred for nearly 300 years. The Thoroughbred originated in Great Britain, and its ancestors were Arabians who were imported and bred to native sprinting mares. The breed is traditionally traced to three "foundation" stallions: the Byerly Turk, the Godolphin Arabian, and the Darley Arabian.

The appearance of the Thoroughbred reveals its Arabian ancestry. It has a refined head, with widely-spaced, intelligent eyes, a long, arched neck and prominent withers. The shoulder is extremely sloped. The heart girth is deep and relatively narrow. The croup is high and the quarters are substantial. The legs are clean and long with pronounced tendons. It has a long, low stride, giving it incomparable speed as a race horse. The Thoroughbred is predominately bay in color, but gray, black, brown and chestnut are also found. It stands between 15 and 17 hands, the Thoroughbreds best suited for sprinting have shorter backs, more substantial quarters and less height.

The Thoroughbred's genetic origin is Arabian. The Arabian foundation stallions which were brought to Britain in the late 1600s and early 1700s were bred to domestic mares - very probably Scottish Galloways - although they may have been bred to Arabian mares, too. A substantial number of early Thoroughbreds were bred in the vale of Bedale in the County of Yorkshire in Northern England.

The foundation stallions of the Thoroughbred breed and years in which they arrived in England were: the Byerly Turk (1689), the Darley Arabian (1705) and the Godolphin Arabian (1728). Their progeny were the first Thoroughbreds, per se, and although the foundation stallions had many off-spring, three of their descendants stand out as supreme: Herod, Eclipse and Matchem. In the lines of these horses were some outstanding Thoroughbreds: for instance, Princequillo and Round Table descend from Herod; Citation and Sir Ivor descend from Eclipse; and Man O' War from Matchem.

The first Thoroughbred to arrive in America was a stallion named Bulle Rock, by the Darley Arabian. He was imported to Virginia in 1730 by Samuel Gist. In 1757, Janus, a grandson of Godolphin Arabian, was imported and became the founder of the Quarter Horse breed. Diomed, who was imported in 1800 was the most important Thoroughbred imported to America in its early years. Lexington, by Boston, was foaled in 1850 and was the greatest sire of the 1800s.

Some famous modern Thoroughbreds are:

1. Arabian 2. Turk 3. Barb

For more information:
The Jockey Club Newmarket Suffolk CB8 8JL ENGLAND
The Jockey Club 821 Corporate Drive Lexington KY 40503-2794 Phone: (606) 224-2700 or 800-444-8521 Fax: (606) 224-2710 Internet:

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