Rivers of Gold – excerpts: part 8

(researching and writing Rivers of Gold I was dragged further and further back in time…eventually, all the way back to the very origins of the Thoroughbred.  Back to Charles II who was determined to improve the quality of his running horses.)

“…Thoroughbred sport, as we know it today, began with the ascension of Charles II.  The expression ‘sport of kings’ orignially was ‘the sport of the king.’  The king, of course, Charles II.  An enthusiastic patron of race meets at Newmarket, the British monarch could often be spotted surveying the gallops from his pavillion at the top of the hill, or touring the grounds on Old Rowley, his trusted riding horse.

Rivers of Gold

An accomplished horseman, CharlesII was reputed to be physically fit and brimming with energy.  By day he frequently rode his own horses in races-no mean feat as they were generally conducted over three grueling heats.  In the evenings his stamina would be further tested as he and his court were known to party until dawn…

“…Prior to the mid-17th Century the most popular native breed of running horse was the now extinct Scottish Galloway.  These sturdy, swift ponies were surefooted, spirited and seldom grew aller than 14 hands.  The Galloway pulled carriages, carried riders and were often found careening across racecourse throughout Southern and Yorkshire…

In order to produce a faster, more streamlined horse, the favoured breed introduced into the sturdy native strains was the Arabian…

Thus the Thoroughbred hybrid is quite extraordinary.  It combines desert horses, animals able to endure extreme heat, designed to carry its rider across endless desolate stretches of sand, with the Galloway, a horse able to endure the damp and cold weather of Scotland, plow through bogs and gallop over hill and dale…” to be continued

(next, “the hybrid horse and Federico Tesio’s “AHA” moment)

 

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