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  Bloody Shouldered Arabian

Bloody Shouldered Arabian  
Grey colt, 1713.
Imported into England in 1719.


The Bloody-Shouldered Arabian (a.k.a. Lord Oxford's Bloody-Shouldered Arabian, Bassett's Lord Oxford Bloody-Shouldered Arabian) was imported into England at the end of 1719 or early in 1720. Purchased by Nathanial Harley, operating as a British merchant in Turkey, from a "Bey of the Gordeens," when he was two and one-half years old, Harley noted he was "...of great spirit, but no great speed, wou'd soon learn anything in the Manage...[manege, as in riding hall]." At the age of six, he was shipped from Aleppo by Harley, to his brother, Auditor Edward Harley, in England, who gave the horse to their nephew, Edward Lord Harley, later second Earl of Oxford. Harley noted the horse had a "redish" stain on one of his shoulders, by the age of six "now much wore out, but when I bought him was as red as blood." In a letter to brother Edward, Harley said the horse had "...a good body, a fine long well-shaped neck, a pair of glistering eyes, and stands upon four good leggs, which I hope may make amends for any falts that may be found in him."

It's doubtful the Bloody-Shouldered Arabian ever ran a race, or even served as a saddle-horse, as Harley recommended, but he was a popular and successful sire in Lord Oxford's stud, held in "high repute." He sired the good chestnut racehorse Sweepstakes, winner of King's plates at Salisbury, Winchester, and Newmarket. Sweepstakes was owned by the Duke of Bolton, and through a daughter was progenitor of Lord Rockingham's Whistlejacket, made famous by Stubb's portrait. He also sired Sir Nathaniel Curzon's Brisk, who won several royal plates and beat most of the best horses of his time. The Bloody-Shouldered Arabian was also an ancestor of the Old Tartar Mare and thus Queen Mab and her progeny (a branch of Family #9).

At the age of sixteen, the Bloody-Shouldered Arabian was sold to the (sixth) Duke of Somerset and removed from the Welbeck stud to Somerset's stud at Petworth, Sussex, where the Rev. James Bramston noted "...that Right Honourable Stallion enjoys a comfortable state of health in his old age...He is undoubtedly a horse of great quality and fine parts."

The portrait above was painted by John Wootton in 1724. Sources: C.M. Prior, Early Records of the Thoroughbred Horse(London" The Sportsman Office, 1924); Theodore Taunton, Famous Horses(London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., 1901). --Patricia Erigero

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