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  Darley Arabian

Darley Arabian  
Bay colt, 1700.
Imported into England in 1704.
Darley Arabian Sire line


The Darley Arabian's story begins on the Syrian desert outside Aleppo, among the herds and tents of the Fedan Bedouins. Their Sheikh Mirza II owned a fine bay colt that caught the attention of the British Consul, Thomas Darley, a merchant and member of a local hunting club. One story says that Darley arranged for the purchase of the colt, then a yearling, for 300 golden sovereigns. Awaiting delivery of his prize, Darley learned that the Sheikh had reneged on the deal, claiming it impossible for him to part with his finest colt. Having the right sort of connections, Darley arranged with some sailors to acquire the colt by their own means and smuggle him out via Smyrna, which is apparently how the young stallion arrived in England, in 1704.

Thomas Darley sent a message on to his brother, Richard at the family's seat at Aldby Hall, Buttercrambe, near Leedes, hopeful but unsure that the colt's exceptional quality would be appreciated by his fellow Yorkshiremen. He explained that the colt was believed to be from one of the purest of Arabian strains, and his name was Manak or Manica, obviously a reference to the famed "Muniqui" strain of Arabians noted for their swift paces.

The Darley Arabian is known to have covered mares between the years 1706 to as late as 1719. He is said to have stood at Aldby until his death at the advanced age of 30 in 1730, at the end of his life the property of John Brewster Darley.

The GSB notes that "He covered very few mares except Mr Darley's, who had very few well bred besides Almanzor's dam." Despite this disadvantage, the Darley Arabian sired a tremendous number of good runners: Childers, Almanzor, Aleppo, Cupid, Brisk, Daedalus, Dart, Skipjack, Manica, Lord Lonsdale's Mare, and Lord Tracy's Mare.

Flying Childers
Flying Childers
The "Childers" noted above was the bay colt bred by Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall, Doncaster, purchased from him by the Duke of Devonshire and then known as Devonshire Childers, but history remembers him as "Flying" Childers (foaled 1715 out of Betty Leedes by Old Careless). The GSB notes that he was "generally supposed to have been the fleetest horse that was ever trained in this or any other country".

At stud, Flying Childers was very successful, the sire of Plaistow, Blacklegs, Second, Snip, Commoner, Blaze, Winall, Spanking Roger, Poppet, Fleec'em, and Steady. His influence (especially through Blaze, dam's sire of Herod, and Snip's son Snap) became widespread but was overshadowed by that of his full brother Bartlett's Childers. Blaze's male line went on with some strength in other breeds. His son Old Shales became an important trotting sire and is the foundation sire of the Hackney breed. Blaze's great grandson Messenger became a foundation sire for the American Standardbred, and his daughter, the outstanding racemare Miller's Damsel became the dam of the racing legend, American Eclipse.

Betty Leedes produced another son of the Darley Arabian the following season (1716). Known to history as Bartlett's Childers was unraced, the reason for which might lie in one of his names, "Bleeding Childers". He was for a time known as "Young Childers" but came out from his older brother's shadow as a tremendous stallion for his owner, Mr. Bartlett. Standing at Nutwith Coate near Masham in Yorkshire, he sired a string of first rate runners such as Squirt, Oedipus and the Little Hartley Mare. Squirt sired Marske, who sired Eclipse and Shark.

The Darleys themselves produced the next most significant son of their famous Arabian, a colt named Almanzor, foaled in 1713 out of his dam, the famous Hautboy mare. Almanzor sired Spinner, his sister, and several other useful daughters. Almanzor's older full brother Aleppo (1711) was unraced due to an accident, and sired the famous Hobgoblin and a better sire in Spark.

Other Darley Arabian sons of influence include Brisk, sire of Cole's Foxhunter, besides Lord Malpas' Horse, Skipjack, Danger, and Gander. Another son, Manica, is remembered as a foundation sire of the Cleveland Bay horse, a breed developed in the Cleveland Hills of Yorkshire. One final son is noteworthy, Bulle Rocke, said to be the first Thoroughbred stallion imported into American, although he does not appear in the General Stud Book and exerted no influence as a sire.

--Anne Peters

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