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The Byerley Turk: Incredible Story of the First Thoroughbred - Hardcover UK Edition Used

Author: Jeremy James
Format: Hardcover, Used - no Dust-jacket
Publisher: Merlyn Unwin; 1st UK edition 2005
ISBN: 0811701557
Size: 347 pages

Foaled in the Balkans, then moved to the lavish Ottoman stables of the Topkapi Palace in the late 1670s, this dark bay stallion was hard-schooled in the disciplines of war. At the age of five, in diamond and ruby-studded harness, he set out to march on Christendom. The attack on Vienna in the summer of 1683 brought the Catholic forces of the Hapsburg Empire to their knees. The heroism of the besieged Christians who stood firm against the armies of Islam was finally rewarded by the arrival of the Winged Hussars of the Cavalry of the King of Poland, who swept the Turks from the walls of the city. Yet this stallion's work was far from done. Two years later, he galloped as an Ottoman charger once more at the Battle of Buda, where he was captured by the English and taken, as a spoil of war, across central Europe to England. Three years later, records show that his proud new owner, Captain Beyerley, rode him in Ireland as a charger in the Battle of the Boyne. Incredibly, on his way to this battle, Byerley entered him in the Downpatrick Races and scooped the King's Plate. After a life of adventure, this beautiful horse retired to the peaceful parklands of Yorkshire. No gravestone marks the spot where he is buried. Yet, on every racetrack in the world, his bloodline thunders on. In 1791, James Weatherby traced the ancestry of all thoroughbreds back to this potent horse of war, the Byerley Turk.

The basic story of this extraordinary horse, the Byerley Turk, is true, but the author has conjured a vivid account of the journey it made from the stables of a Balkan farm, through the opulence of the Ottoman Empire, then through all the Irish wars, to become the very first foundation stallion of the thoroughbred breed.

The story is told mostly from the point of view of the horse's Turkish groom, who appears in the few oil paintings there are of this once famous horse. He creates a moving account of the bond between a poor victim of circumstance and his powerful horse as they miraculously survive every battle they are forced to ride through from the Balkans to the Boyne. It is a vivid portrait of a brutal age. It reeks of the road, of the camp and the battlefield, but it sparkles too with the beauty of the landscapes they travel through and the splendour of a sophisticated yet sadly forgotten culture. A magical story of one of the founding fathers of the thoroughbred racehorse, and a must-read for every horse lover.

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