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11 famous horses from history

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on Aug. 26, 2016, 2:10 p.m.
An illustration of Godolphin Arabian from 1897.

Photo: D. Murrier/Wikimedia Commons

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Godolphin Arabian

Any child who has read Marguerite Henry's "King of the Wind" knows a little something about the Godolphin Arabian, though the novel is a highly fictionalized version of the stallion's life. What isn't fiction is that this famous Arabian horse is credited as being one of the founding sires of the thoroughbred breed.

But before becoming the Godolphin Arabian, the young horse experienced quite a journey. Likely born in Tunisia, the stallion was given to Louis XV of France in 1730 as a diplomatic gift. The unimpressed king didn't keep the horse and instead the stallion eventually made his way into the hands of the Earl of Godolphin, from whom he got his name. The stallion was the sire of several outstanding race horses, and his genetic impression on thoroughbred horses lives on even today.

According to Godolphin.com, "The Godolphin Arabian died in 1753, aged 29 and is buried at Wandlebury Hall in Cambridgeshire. His lasting influence on succeeding generations of thoroughbreds can be gauged from the fact that 50 years after his death, the first 76 British Classic winners had at least one strain of him in their pedigree. Many great modern champions such as Seabiscuit and Man o' War have been descendants of the Godolphin Arabian."