Alcock's Arabian

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Alcock's Arabian
Alcock arabian.jpg
Alcock's Arabian
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1700
Colour Grey
Owner Robert Sutton
Champion sire in Great Britain and Ireland (1728)

Alcock's Arabian (foaled 1700, died c. 1722), also known as Mr Alcock's Arabian, the Brownlow Turk, the Honeywood Arabian and the Akaster Turk, was an Arabian grey horse imported into the Kingdom of England early in the 18th century. He is claimed as the ancestor of all grey Thoroughbred horses.[1]


Sir Robert Sutton (1671–1746), English ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople from 1700 to 1717, acquired the horse in Constantinople, with some other Arabians, and had him shipped to England in 1704.[2] Much of the older horse racing literature refers to another 18th century grey stallion, "the Brownlow Turk", but Lady Wentworth researched the matter and found that when Alcock's Arabian was sold, a new owner gave him that name, so that the two horses are one and the same.[2] Indeed, the horse changed hands several times and is reported to have had yet more names, including the Honeywood Arabian, the Akaster Turk,[1] the Ancaster Arabian, the Holderness Turk, the Sutton Arabian, and Pelham's Grey Arabian.[3] However, some sources consider the Holderness Turk to have been another horse imported at the same time from Constantinople, and some authorities consider the identification with Sutton's Arabian to be probable rather than certain.[4] In the 18th and early 19th century the name "Mr Alcock's Arabian" was also used.[5]

Bloodlines and influence[edit]

The horse's sire line was briefly significant through his son Crab (or "Old Crab"), who sired Ancaster's Grasshopper, Routh's Crab, Shepherd's Crab, Cumberland's Crab, Sloe, Rib, Spot, Gentleman, Brilliant, Black and All Black, Imported Sober John, Berie's Ramper, and Spectator. The last of these was the sire of Sulphur, Damper, and Marc Anthony, who sired Aimwell (1782), winner of the Derby of 1785. Aimwell was the only winner of the Derby not in the sire line of one of the three great Arabian foundation stallions, the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerley Turk. [6][7]

As the Brownlow Turk, Alcock's Arabian was the sire of Grey Grantham, who got the Cabbage-arse mare.[8] Supposing the horse to have been also "The Akaster Turk", he also covered mares under that name and got Terror, Chaunter, and Mr Thwaite's Dun Mare and was the sire of the dams of Roxana and Silverlocks.[9] Alcock's Arabian was Leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 1728.

Although his sire line is believed now to be extinct, Alcock's Arabian is claimed as the ancestor of all grey Thoroughbred horses.[1][10] His status as the progenitor of all grey Thoroughbreds was the subject of a question on Episode 12 of Series H of the BBC comedy panel game QI.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Lady Wentworth, The Swift Runner: racing speed through the ages (G. Allen & Unwin, 1957), p. 27: "All grey thoroughbreds are descended in direct (though not exclusively male) line from the Grey Alcock Arabian, also known as the Brownlow Turk, Honeywood Arabian and Akaster Turk, the grey colour persisting through some 26 generations..."
  2. ^ a b Racers at, accessed 16 February 2012
  3. ^ Chronicle of the Horse, vol. 38, issues 14-26 (Masters of Foxhounds Association of America, 1975), p. 64
  4. ^ Charles Evelyn Graham Hope, Noel Jackson, The Encyclopedia of the Horse (Viking Press, 1973), p. 47: "Alcock Arabian ... Imported with the Holdernesse Turk to England via Constantinople by Sir Robert Sutton and probably first known as Sutton's Arabian, he changed hands several times during the next eighteen years or so..."
  5. ^ The Sporting Magazine, vol. 32 (1808), p. 138
  6. ^ The Athenaeum, part 2, p. 380: "One other Arabian there was which in the direct male line was the progenitor of one solitary winner of the Derby ; that was Mr. Alcock's Arabian, sire of Old Crab, sire of Spectator, sire of Marc Antony, sire of Aimwell, winner of the Derby in 1785."
  7. ^ Nicholas Hankey Smith, 'Thoroughbred Bloodlines', in Observations on Breeding for the Turf (London: G. Whittaker, 1825), pp. 100 & 236-237
  8. ^ Smith (1825), p. 283
  9. ^ Smith (1825), p. 100
  10. ^ Elwyn Hartley Edwards, Candida Geddes, The Complete horse book (1991), p. 67: "...every grey Thoroughbred traces back to Alcock's Arabian."
  11. ^ "QI - Series H - Horses And Hunting - British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 2012-02-18.