The history of thoroughbreds can be traced back to three foundation sires; the Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Arabian. From these stallions are descended 90% of today’s breed.
Thoroughbreds have been used to refine and develop many breeds, and are valued for their versatility, fineness of bone and, above all, their speed.
Professional horse racing started in1702, during the reign of Queen Anne. As racing’s popularity grew, so did the development of the thoroughbred as the ultimate racing machine, for which it remains unchallenged.
In 1793, James Weatherby compiled the first General Studbook, listing the pedigrees of 387 mares.
Today, Weatherbys is the governing body for the registration of thoroughbreds, and horses must be registered with the studbook to be eligible to race. To ensure the integrity of the studbook and the registered bloodlines, foals are microchipped and DNA parentage tested before entry.
The popularity of thoroughbred racing was recognised by countries wishing to establish their own populations of purpose-bred racehorses. In 1780, the Derby winner Diomed was exported to the USA and was fundamental in shaping American thoroughbred breeding.
Although known predominantly as racehorses, their versatility has meant that they are used in a wide range of disciplines, including eventing, polo, endurance and show jumping. They are also suited to the hunting field or simply for use as riding horses.