Rivers of Gold – excerpts: part 9

(My interest in genetics was born, in no small part, of necessity.  The thing, of course, that distinguishes the Thoroughbred from other horse breeds is nervous energy.  Many years ago my friend, Judy Mappin, and I found ourselves with a horse who’s nervous energy was beyond the boiling point.

Rivers of Gold

At the time, Judy (first born of EP and Winifred Taylor) was at the helm of Windfields, so was one of the reasons we opted to stable this horse, Val d’Argent, there.  The other reason was Allan Kerr, stallion manager at the famed horse farm.  I knew of no better horseman, and hoped that if anyone could help us understand and cope with Val d’Argent, it was Kerr.  Simultaneously, I was researching into the the life of Val’s great-great-granfather, Nearctic, for my book, Dark Horse: unraveling the mystery of Nearctic.

Genetics, I discovered, was at the forefront of this saga.  All of which led me to read everything ever written about Federico Tesio, likely the most important horse breeder in history.)

“…A man of limited financial means. Tesio’s wealth was in his genius.  Animals that emanated from his modest broodmare band continue to have a profound impact on the breed, world-wide.  None more so that the mighty Nearco, sire of Nearctic, grandsire of Northern Dancer.

Tesio’s “AHA” moment occured in 1906 on a train traveling from Pisa to Rome.  The man sitting opposite him appeared engrossed in a small book.  When the fellow stepped out of the compartment he left the book on his seat.  Tesio’s curiosity compelled him to pick it up.

Val d’Argent

Entitled “Mendelism,” it was a translation from German into English of Mendel’s theory on crossing pure breeds and the resulting hybrids.  Tesio was instantly captivated.  When his traveling companion returned he found Tesio totally absorbed and suggested that he finish reading.  Before they reached Rome Tesio had devoured and memorized the material…” to be continued

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