When I finished writing The horse and the tiger, I was totally exhausted. Not only from the endless hours in front of my computer, but the massive amount of research it required. First there was the Irish history. Despite descending from a long line of black Irish horse-lovers, I knew very little of their story. According to my father, my forebears were anxious to assimilate into Canadian culture. Furthermore, those who emigrated to this part, this very British part of our country, were not always welcomed. Indeed, there were businesses displaying signs warning “Irish need not apply.”
Researching and writing about the British oppression of Ireland and subsequent famines was enervating. As was the story of the Irish horse traders and all the outrageous wheeling and dealing. By the time the book rolled off the presses, I had grown weary of all the various interlocking stories that would constitute The horse and the tiger.
Yet, as books go, I realize now that it is not only excellent, but offers insights into how horse racing, and specifically Thoroughbred breeding, arrived at this critical point in time.
Then this morning I was alerted to research by Emmeline Hill, professor of equine genomics at University Dublin College. She and her team analyzed the genomes of over 10,000 Thoroughbreds, the results linked the increase of inbreeding within popular sire lines – 97% of horses in the study traced to Northern Dancer. According to the scientists, the scenario reduces genetic diversity which can lead to inbreeding depression.
… to be continued