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The Byerley Turk was the earliest of three stallions that were the founders of the modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock.


The story of the Byerley Turk begins at the siege of Buda in Hungary in 1688, when a fine brown charger was taken from a captured Turkish officer by Captain Robert Byerley of the Sixth Dragoon Guards under King William III of Orange. The horse was believed to be about eight years old at the time, placing his year of birth at around 1679. The stallion served as Byerley's war horse when he was dispatched to Ireland in 1689 during King William's War. In 1690, public records show a race meeting was held in the spring at Down Royal in Northern Ireland, at which the top prize, the Silver Bell, was won by Captain Byerley's charger. Later that same year, the stallion was used during the Battle of the Boyne, July 12, 1690, versus the forces of King James II. 

The Byerley Turk first entered stud in England, at the family seat at Middridge Grange, County Durham and later at Byerley's Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough, in Yorkshire. It is said that he covered many "bred" mares during both periods of his stud career. He was known to be at stud as late as 1701, the year he sired a horse called Basto (foaled in 1702). It's possible that his remains are buried somewhere on the Goldsborough estate.

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