Turkish stud farms thrive with future champions
Horse racing is a passion for bettors and racing enthusiasts in Turkey. The stud farms operated by the Direction Générale des Entreprises Agricoles (TIGEM) are the main source of supply for purebred Arabian horses which have left their mark on national races for decades. Currently, a breeding season is underway at three farms in the northwestern provinces of Bursa, central Eskişehir and eastern Malatya, where around 380 foals are expected to be born this year.
Most are foals from prominent and champion horses, themselves born on government-run farms. TIGEM President Sait Kocabay said 87 foals have been born this year so far and the breeding season will continue until June. “Our farms staffed with expert breeders and groomers provide an ideal environment for future racing champions,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday.
The farms are home to some 1,250 Arabian horses and have a heritage of horse breeding dating back to Ottoman times. Each year, some 260 foals are born on the farms.
Breeding is a profitable business for TIGEM, which earned $3.3m (TL 45.2m) last year from the sale of 273 foals, the highest in a decade.
Due to their strength and durability, thoroughbred Arabian horses were popular in the Ottoman Empire. Horses were obtained from the Arabian Peninsula through trade, diplomacy and warfare. The Ottomans encouraged the establishment of private stud farms to ensure a steady supply of cavalry horses. Prized stallions were often given as diplomatic gifts to European nobles and then to Americans. In 1877, Sultan Abdul Hamid II presented US President Ulysses S. Grant with an Arabian stallion named Leopard.
Arabian horses are still among the favorite horse breeds in sport today.