The Foundation Stallions
Three Arabian stallions are known as the fathers of the Thoroughbred breed in Britain. They are:
The Byerley Turk
At the siege of Buda, Captain Byerley captured a horse from the Turks which would carry his name into history. The horse became known as the Byerley Turk and was the first of the three foundation stallions to come to Britain. Reputedly ridden at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 by Captain Byerley, this horse distinguished himself as a sire, although he was not bred to many mares. In spite of his name, he was probably an Arab. The Byerley Turk founded a line of Thoroughbreds, the most distinguished of which was Herod, who was foaled in 1758, and proved to be a very successful sire himself.
The Darley Arabian
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The second of the three foundation stallions to be imported to England was the Darley Arabian. He was foaled in 1700 and bought by Thomas Darley in Aleppo (Syria) in 1704. The horse was shipped to Yorkshire, where he was bred to numerous mares. The most successful matings were with Betty Leeds, which resulted in two very important colts: Flying Childers and Bartlet's Childers. Through the Childers line, the Darley Arabian was the great-great-grandsire of Eclipse, who gained the description, "Eclipse first, the rest nowhere." The Darley Arabian is the most important of the three foundation stallions in terms of his influence of the Thoroughbred breed.
The Godolphin Arabian
The last foundation stallion to come to England was a horse foaled in Yemen. After being shipped to Syria and then to Tunis, he was given to the King of France as a gift. One story tells of him pulling a lowly water cart in Paris. He was admired and bought by an Englishman named Edward Coke, who brought him to England. The second Earl of Godolphin acquired the horse and bred him to several distinguished mares. Mated to Roxana, he sired Lath, the greatest racehorse in England after Flying Childers: and another mating of these two produced Cade, the sire of the great Matchem, who carried on the line of the Godolphin Arabian. In 1850 it was remarked that "the blood of the Godolphin Arabian is in every stable in England".