Foundation Byerley Turk Sire Line Drying Up In Australia And Beyond

The diluting of the Thoroughbred gene pool is not a concern restricted just to the U.S., with the foundation Byerley Turk sire line in danger of vanishing in Australia, TDN Australia/New Zealand reports.

The Byerley Turk is one of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred breed, to which all modern Thoroughbreds can directly trace back to through their sire lines, joined by the Godolphin Arabian and Darley Arabian. Like most horses born in the mid-1600s, formal records on the Byerley Turk can be spotty and contradictory, but history has generally settled on the horse being born in Serbia in 1682 before shipping to Turkey, England, and Ireland as a battalion horse, and eventually becoming a stallion for Capt. Robert Byerley.

From his sire line came names as big as the mighty Eclipse. The Byerley Turk line first set roots in Australia in the mid-1950s with Better Boy, 20 generations on from the taproot stallion, who was a stakes winner on the continent, then became its leading sire on four occasions.

The sire line peaked in Australia with Better Boy’s son, Century, who was born in 1969 and won three races that would come to be classified as Group 1 events in the future. He was Australia’s leading sire of 1978, and his runners included Rubiton, winner of the Group 1 Cox Plate in 1987.

Though Century was an abundant sire of runners, he died in 1994 without a significant son at stud. That failure to preserve the bloodline has put the Byerley Turk’s presence on the continent in jeopardy, to the point where no significant commercial stallions from the line reside in Australia.

Dunaden, winner of the G1 Melbourne Cup, from a separate branch from Century, was another potential contender to pick up the baton, but he died after just four seasons at stud.

Though Australia was the focus of the piece, Suzi Prichard-Jones, author of the book Byerley: The Thoroughbred’s Ticking Time Bomb, noted that the disappearance of the Byerley Turk line is a global issue. The line all but dried up in the U.S. by the 1990s, and Prichard-Jones could find only two stallions of any commercial significance residing in Europe: Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Indian Haven, who stands in Ireland, and Group 2 winner Pearl Secret, who resides in England.

Prichard-Jones warns in her book that losing diversity in the breed to the level of an entire foundation line’s elimination could have long-term ramifications to the soundness of the Thoroughbred. She theorized that the sunset of the line has been expedited by breeders lacking knowledge of the line’s importance to the overall makeup of the Thoroughbred breed, instead chasing the next hot sire to appeal to the auction market.

Read more at TDN Australia/New Zealand.

The post Foundation Byerley Turk Sire Line Drying Up In Australia And Beyond appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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