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A Brief History of the National Stud


If you are visiting Newmarket or the surrounding area then you may be familiar with, or have heard about The National Stud. Therefore we wanted to give you some more background by offering you a brief history of the National Stud.

The Stud aims to serve the Thoroughbred Breeding Industry in three ways: firstly, by providing high-quality breeding services; secondly, by providing internationally-renowned training facilities; and, thirdly, by raising people’s interest and knowledge of the industry through public tours.

The National Stud is widely regarded as one of Newmarket’s most popular attractions, however, not many people know about the history of this internationally renowned operation. Therefore, below we have put together a brief history of The National Stud to offer you some background.

Founded in 1915 when Lord Wavertree donated his bloodstock to the British Government, the farm was originally located on the edge of the Curragh in Ireland and was called the Tully Stud.

Its original aim was to spearhead a warhorse breeding programme to supply the government with lightweight cavalry horses for use in military campaigns around the world.

As warfare changed, the need for such cavalry horses disappeared and the Stud instead concentrated its efforts on improving the Thoroughbred breed.

The operation quickly saw success and has since bred many high profile horses, not least the extremely talented Sun Chariot. This filly was foaled in 1939 and went on to claim the Fillies Triple Crown in 1942. Her name lives on to this day, with the Sun Chariot Stakes, a Group 1 race that is run on the Newmarket Rowley Mile Racecourse each year.

During the 1940s the land at Tully Stud was purchased from the British Government by the newly-formed Republic of Ireland and the Irish National Stud was founded on the site. To this day, it still operates in much the same way as our own.

In 1963 the newly-established Levy Board was directed to run the British National Stud and 500 acres in Newmarket, England was leased from the Jockey Club. Peter Burrell was responsible for the yard’s layout, and it still stands this way today, with stable blocks named after Jockey Club members well known in the 19th Century.

In 1973 Paul Mellon’s Mill Reef retired to the National Stud to begin a highly successful career as a stallion and he is commemorated as one of the world’s greatest racehorses with a statue that stands in front of the Stallion Unit.

Public tours began in the mid 70s, and a decade later the Stud’s full-time education and training programmes started, and continue to be well respected.

The National Stud was bought from the Levy Board by The Jockey Club in 2008 and is now a private company. It maintains a strong commitment to the Thoroughbred Breeding Industry, both commercially and through continued provision of education and training to students and the general public.

Discover Newmarket operates regular tours of the National Stud, giving you the opportunity to experience this hugely important and amazingly interesting operation first hand.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the history of the National Stud, visit our tour page here to find out more, or give us a call on 0344 748 9200