Someone once told me that certain horses possess the power to instantly captivate us. Like falling in love. We are smitten. I know Winnie Taylor would agree. Wife of Eddie (EP) Taylor, master of the magnificent Windfields Farm, Winnie was in the foaling barn the morning after Natalma had given birth to a tiny, bay colt with a narrow white blaze running the length of his face. The angle gave him a cheeky, impudent look. Winnie was immediately captivated. Frequently after dinner she would bring him dinner mints.
She named him Northern Dancer and he would grow up to win the Kentucky Derby in record time, and the hearts of Canadians from coast-to-coast. As a stallion he was considered more valuable than gold. Throughout it all, the special bond between Northern Dancer and Winnie Taylor never wavered.
Years later I was at Windfields and wandering down a tree-lined lane en route to the farm office. Off in the distance a bay colt caught my attention. He was at the gate, bouncing from hoof to hoof, like a boxer at the start of a match. The closer I got to him, the more he reminded me of Northern Dancer.
I had recently sold the option to the rights to my book, Northern Dancer: the legend and his legacy, to a Canadian film company. While the bouncing colt didn’t have the crooked blaze, from the perspective of body-type, he appeared perfect to play the role of a young Northern Dancer in the movie.
Named Val d’Argent, his dam French Influence, was a Northern Dancer granddaughter. His sire, Silver Deputy, a great grandson. I would learn, the hard way, that this colt not only resembled Northern Dancer in physical appearance, but in his volatility. Still, little did I know it at the time, but I was hooked.
The movie didn’t materialize – not yet – but this one horse has taught me more than I’ll ever know
…. to be continued