August 9, 2012

Sire of greatness

King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian
by Margeurite Henry

When Sham was born, he had a white spot on his heel, which was the emblem of swiftness. But he also had the wheat ear on his chest that foretold evil. Yet he was a handsome colt, so he was sent, with six other Arabian horses, as a gift to the King of France. Sham was accompanied by his handler, a mute boy named Agba.

The King of France, being a spoiled boy at the time, was not interested in Sham, who had been greatly starved during the long voyage across the seas. Sham was put to work as a cart horse and later sold to a succession of owners, some of whom treated him cruelly. Sharing in all the misfortune is the loyal Agba.

Fans of Black Beauty will enjoy Henry's book, which is the highly fictional story of how Sham's noble pedigree was finally recognized. Although he never raced, Sham went on to sire many fine racehorses, most notably Man o' War.

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