Earliest Foundation Stallions in Australia (Colony of NSW)
Acknowledge Douglas M Barrie “The Australian Bloodhorse” 1956
Featured Image: ‘Hector’ from a watercolour impression by Douglas M Barrie
First Fleet Stallion 1788
Accompanied the First Fleet from Cape Town with another yearling colt, three mares and two filly foals. Restricted early influence partly because of limited opportunities. ‘Cape breeds’ were classed as ‘utility horses’ used mainly for transport. This stallion had minimal impact on the nascent equine genotype.
Several Arab and Persian stallions were imported between 1796 and 1802. They were used in the establishment of our foundation stock. Between six and ten were introduced. They were described by Captain Collins as “tolerably good”. This was a practice which was successfully repeated in the mid-1800s when Arabs of Indian origin were used to ‘improve the breed’.
Rockingham (Young Rockingham)
Rockingham was an English thoroughbred imported to Sydney from the Cape of Good Hope in 1799: “About the first importation made with a view of improving the breed of horses in NSW”. He was most likely a son of one of the Rockingham mares as the General Stud Book (UK) has no record of one of his sons being exported to either the Cape or Australia. Some of the oldest colonial families trace back to Rockingham (Imp.) mares including ‘Myrtle’.
‘Northumberland’ was bred by the Duke of Northumberland (UK) and stood 17 hands high. He gave the stallion to Major George Johnston of the NSW Corps. This fine horse was imported on the ‘Buffalo’ in October 1802 by Major Johnston along with an English mare. They were the first English horses to come direct to Australia. He stood first at Annandale and then at Macarthur’s Camden Park Stud. He and Old Hector were the two leading sires in Australia prior to 1820. His colonial sons included Percy, Escape, Hotspur, Champion, Nelson and Young Northumberland. Many of the early racehorse trace to Northumberland mares.
Washington was an American thoroughbred imported about 1802 or earlier. He was a very successful sire of early broodmares including Wentworth’s Grey Galloway (foaled about 1809), Marmion (1817) and Oscar (1818).
Hector (Old Hector)
Once the property of the Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley) Hector was a very fine bay Arab, imported from Calcutta, possibly in February 1803, but no later than 1806 by merchant Mr R. Campbell. He stood between 15 and 16 hands high and was one of the great early sires. It’s highly likely that the first overland ‘explorers’ to the Upper Hunter Valley including John Howe (1819) rode the progeny of these stallions.