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- Why Racing Venues Owe Thanks to the Arabian Breed -

Horseracing is an ever-changing sport. and this includes the horses that are used for racing. The history of horses is one that is thousands of years old, and while normally used for work around farms and for war, they were also used for racing. Naturally, this led to the interest in horses that were stronger and faster.


The Romans would match horses from the local stock with Arabian imported horses. who were naturally hot-blooded and wilder than the local British and Roman stock. After the fall of Rome and the establishment of Britain as an independent kingdom, horse racing was still a popular pastime of the population, and the search for the greatest racehorse soon began.


The Horses from Arabia


Arabian horses were always noted for being seemingly stronger and faster than their Western counterparts. This made them highly prized among nobility and even kings, queens, and emperors. Having a majestic horse from Arabia was as much a symbol of power and wealth as it was for conventional use. A carriage being pulled by a full team of Arabian horses meant the owner must be quite wealthy and powerful.


The people of Britain were no stranger to importing Arabian horses, and over the centuries thousands of stallions were brought over to serve under kings, queens, and nobles. Three horses in particular are noteworthy, and they Byerley Turk, who arrived on Britain’s shores in the 1680, Darley Arabian, who arrived in 1704, and finally Godolphin Arabian coming ashore in 1729.

Why are these three stallions so important? Because every single thoroughbred can trace their lineage to one of these three horses. Regardless if today that thoroughbred is from Japan, America, Russia, or France, their linage lies with British stallions. In truth, over 160 different stallions are credited for the modern thoroughbred, but Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian, and Godolphin Arabian are still the ones that paved a way for horse now seen at the famous Aintree Racecourse and others to this very day.


Why Thoroughbreds Are Champion Racehorses


Today, thoroughbreds are considered very spirited. Trained from birth for speed and agility, they are also bold which puts them at less of a risk of being spooked during a race. All these traits were considerably desirable by early horse enthusiasts, who would breed the Arabian stallions with local mares in the hopes of passing the genes from one generation to the next.


By 1791, Britain adopted the General Stud Book as well as official record keeping for horses. This greatly improved the spread of the thoroughbred linage, as breeders and buyers could trace the linage of a horse and see if anyone in the family tree was a champion or what accomplishments the family line had.

Even today, the thoroughbred has been used in the creations of other breeds like the Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and Anglo-Arabian. The traits of speed, agility, and of course a strong spirit is too good for many breeders to pass up on. Hence, thoroughbreds are more expensive on the market compared to non-thoroughbreds.


As for racing, especially races here at home, most winners you'll see are thoroughbreds. This isn't to say other breeds are less likely to win, it's just that they'll be less likely to race. For example, Standardbred are used in harness racing and Quarter Horses are sprinters. A type of racehorse, yes, but not one to compete with a thoroughbred.


The races held at Cheltenham, Epsom, and Ascot wouldn't be the same, or even exist as we know them, if it weren't for the thoroughbred. The breed has drastically improved the world of horse racing since the 18th century, and just about every major winner from the Triple Crown to the Gold Cup has been a thoroughbred. The breed isn't done yes, either, as seen previously thoroughbreds are used in the development of newer breeds.


We owe ourselves a great deal of thanks for the original Arabian stallions who arrived on our shores hundreds of years ago. Without them, racing wouldn't be the same. Much like their sport, thoroughbreds themselves are always changing and bred for more specialized niches and races. It's through this that the linage of the original stallions still lives.



Why Racing Venues Owe Thanks to the Arabian Breed


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