It should be rather easy to identify a Thoroughbred. After all, they are quite common and located around the world. But why is it this breed has been featured this month in Abler’s newsletter? The answer is quite simple – January 1st is the official birthday of all horses in the Northern Hemisphere – specifically the Thoroughbred. No matter when the horse is born, its birthday falls on the first of January.
This might not be all that true; as all horses have their own unique birthdates but this particular breed’s birthday falls on the 1st of January for the sole purpose of classifying the horses for the competition that they are participating. Some races are only suitable for three-year-olds while others are classed for four-year-olds. This requireda standardized system for all participants and thus, setting a common birthday.
Since the Thoroughbred is this month’s featured breed, let us look into its history and get to know some of the world’s most famous thoroughbreds.
The History of the Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred breed originated in Great Britain. Three stallions have founded the breed namely the Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Arabian. These stallions were bred to native sprinting mares and resulted to the first Thoroughbred foals.
In the year 1960, Captain Robert Byerley captured a stallion from the Turks and rode this stallion all throughout the war and then brought it with him to England. This stallion contributed to the Herod line of TBs, together with Highflyer, son of Herod. In 1704, Thomas Darley brought a stallion from Aleppo. He selectively bred this stallion to native racing mares. Darley Arabian contributed to the legendary horse, Eclipse, which 90% of Thoroughbreds have descended from. The Third founding sire was the Godolphin Arabian, brought by Lord Godolphin to England in 1728.
Descendants from these three sires were bred and crossbred to produce an offspring that possesses exceptional speed and strength. Selectively breeding is solely for the purpose of creating a breed that is fast and strong – ideal for the racetrack. The breed has strong legs ideal for hard running, and also has a wide girth for a large lung capacity. With its long and sloped shoulder, the breed is capable of a greater stride. Generally, the breed is made for speed.
There are many historical thoroughbreds and most of them excel at racing. Here are some of the horses that made it in history.
- Aristides – the first TB that won the Kentucky Derby in 1875.
- Bulle Rock – The first TB to be brought to the American Colonies. Bulle Rock was imported by Samuel Gist of Hanover County, Virginia in 1730.
- Carbine – a New Zealand-bred TB that won 30 principal races.
- Eclipse – a very influential sire in the 18th century. Eclipse won 18 races in 18 starts
- Phar Lap – The most famed TB racehorse of Australia and New Zealand; Phar Lap won 37 races out of his 57 career stats.
- Seabiscuit – hailed as champion thoroughbred in the US and a symbol of hope during the Great Depression
- Secretariat – Winner of the U.S. Triple Crown in 1973
Cheers to all thoroughbred racehorses in the Northern Hemisphere. From Abler, we wish all Thoroughbreds a happy birthday!