What was the Godolphin Arabian?

Along with the Byerley Turk and the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian was one of the three so-called ‘foundation’ sires, which originated on the Arabian Peninsula and to which every modern thoroughbred can trace its pedigree. The origin of the Godolphin Arabian is unclear, but the stallion is believed to have been given, as a gift, to the King of France, Louis XV, by the Bey of Tunis. Although still not known as such, the Godolphin Arabian was subsequently acquired by Englishman Edward Coke, who sent him to Longford Hall, Derbyshire in 1729. ‘Ye Arabian’, as he was listed in the studbook, stood at Longford Hall until the untimely death of Edward Coke, at the age of just 32, in 1733.

In his will, Edward Coke bequeathed his stallions, including the Godolphin Arabian, to his friend, and bloodstock agent, Roger Williams. Later the same year, the Arabian was acquired by Francis, Second Earl of Godolphin, and sent to stand at his stud in Gog Magog, near Stapleford, Cambridgeshire; thereafter, the stallion became known as the ‘Godolphin Arabian’. The Arabian remained at Gog Magog until his death in 1753 and quickly established himself as a leading sire; his notable offspring included his first foal, Lath, and Cade, Regulus and Blank, all of whom proved to be champion sires in their own right.