The Byerley Turk – The Legend

The Byerley Turk – The Legend




The General Stud Book (GSB) that was produced in 1791 to officially register horses states nothing about the Byerley Turk’s origin but simply states – BYERLY TURK, was Captain Byerly’s charger in Ireland, in King William’s wars (1689, &c.).- Wikipedia

Reported to be a dark brown horse with strong oriental or Arabian features, many of his offspring were also noted to be black or bay.

The stud records show that after Byerley’s death the stallion was sent for stud duty. At first, he was placed a Middridge Grange and then moved to Goldsborough Hall in the year 1697. The year 1706 marked the year of a great stallion’s death, the Byerley Turk was buried near to the Hall which is presently a private family home offering accommodation.

Unlike the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerley Turk has comparatively lesser modern day Thoroughbred offspring except Basto who was a meaningful race horse and founder of the thoroughbred family. More recently, Hong-Kong trained gelding – Cape of Good Hope having a sire-line back to the Byerley Turk won the 2005 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The best way to understand the legacy of this magnificent stallion is to read “The Byerley Turk” by Jeremy James. This book dismisses all hidden mysteries about the stallion by extensive and original research done by the writer narrating the untold story of a legend. The powerful bond between Man and Horse is presented in the book especially when the author writes – “Men without horses are nothing” – The Byerley Turk.

In the book, his journey starts from the year 1679 in a far away Balkan Village, where a penniless man finds the incredible foal and trains him for the War. With the dreams of replenishing his poverty, he schools the horse on the discipline of a War. From then on, the journey continues till they arrive at Istanbul where the stallion gets chosen for cavalry to represent the Ottoman’s Empire. With the war at hand the Byerley Turk charged his way by battles till he was captured by the British and sent to England in 1686. Here he was ridden by Captain Robert Byerley till his death following to which the stallion was sent to stud duty.

The romantically narrated story by the author projects the significance of a horse that was considered as one of the founding fathers of thoroughbred horse racing. The forgotten hero is brought to life by this book, one that I would definitely recommend!




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