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Although commonly believed to refer to any breed of horse that is purebred – a process of selective breeding – a thoroughbred is actually a specific breed of horse known for their athleticism, agility and speed. They are understandably ideal for horse racing.
All thoroughbreds can trace their lineage to just three original stallions that were brought to the United Kingdom in the 17th and 18th centuries in the hope to produce faster and more powerful racehorses.
By introducing those stallions into England over 200 years ago the horse owners of the day transformed the sport of horse racing and today thoroughbreds compete in a number of different disciplines depending on how they have been bred.
The two codes of thoroughbred racing are flat racing and jump racing. Although both codes are found all over the world, jump races or steeplechases are more commonly held in the UK, Ireland, France and parts of Central Europe. In other countries flat racing is the dominant code.
As owners are required to hold proof of lineage when it comes to thoroughbreds it is a helpful tool for bettors to see who sired a particular horse. The family line is generally a good indicator of how a horse will run and this is especially relevant when they are a novice. Although not an absolute rule, horses will tend to exhibit the same characteristics as their ancestors.
The world’s most expensive thoroughbred stallion is believed to be Galileo. The stud fee is actually listed as private but is thought to be anywhere from £400,000 to £600,000 – not surprising considering horses sired by the thoroughbred won over £14m in prize money in 2017.