Rivers of Gold – excerpts – part 3

… Confronted with my avalanche of information Thoroughbred Times opted to run the story over 4 issues beginning in October 2002 and ending April 2003.  While I understood breaking the saga down into pieces was necessary, I also thought it lost its impact…

Then in 2010 Dr. Emmeline Hill, scientist at Dublin’s University College, announced the discovery of the ‘speed gene’ in Thoroughbreds.  After studying hundreds of horses Hill and her team found that a genetic variant associated with speed became widespread in modern Thoroughbreds due to a single stallion – Canada’s Nearctic.  His son, Northern Dancer, was deemed responsible for passing on the speed gene around the globe…

Rivers of Gold

Hill’s revelation made me think it amazing there even was a horse named Nearctic; that he actually survived is a miracle.  A detail few know.  I have long held that if more trainers knew Nearctic’s story it would make their jobs easier.

In the spring of 2010 I received a call from Rolph deGannes, former Windfields Farm resident veterinarian: “I’ve been asked to speak at a racing conference about the world’s most important stallion… you know who I mean?” he challenged.  The popular answer was, of course, Northern Dancer, but fortunately I replied “Nearctic.”

DeGannes was asking permission to quote from my book: Dark Horse: unraveling the mystery of Nearctic. 

Not long after it was launched in 2001 the warehouse housing Dark Horse and half the books in Canada became embroiled in the bankruptcy of Stoddard Publishing.  Dark Horse and the rest of the titles locked up in storage were collateral damage.  The irony was not lost on me.  It had taken years to track down and piece together a story that had been entombed all this time only to see it buried again.

During the writing of Rivers of Gold I became captivated by two mares: The Fuge in the UK and Treve in France…. Both horses reminded me of Nearctic.  Rivers of Gold seemed to be a good place to reintroduce elements of Dark Horse. 

Nearctic is, after all, the turbulent firepower that turned our lazy meandering genetic streams into raging torrents.  Furthermore, the stories behind this epic are brimming with colour and passion, drama and skullduggery….to be continued



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