Over the past few weeks I have been pondering Dr. Emmeline Hill’s recent findings that 97% of Thoroughbreds descend from Canada’s Northern Dancer. Which led me to his Canadian son, The Minstrel. Years ago I was rider-in-residence at Windfields estate, which meant that I schooled the horses and accompanied Eddie Taylor whenever he wished to ride – which was frequently
And am reminded of the day that Taylor had just returned from Saratoga where, amid the excitement of the races and the sales, he had been selling breeding rights to The Minstrel.
Taylor had been to the stables looking for me, when I rounded the corner and we almost collided. “Ah there you are,” he said. “I’ve been looking all over… I just wanted to tell you that I know you are going to like The Minstrel. He’s is so much like Northern Dancer.”
He then went on to tell me about selling shares in the colt: a colt incidentally that was born on his Windfields Farm and ended up being purchased by the Irish syndicate for $200,000. The colt would win the Guineas and The Derby and Taylor eventually paid $4.5 million for half the 36 shares in The Minstrel and on the grounds the he would return to North America to stand at stud at Taylor’s Maryland farm.
And this, I believe, not only proved to be a major turning point in in Northern Dancer’s dominance in the gene pool, but the history of the Thoroughbred. So for the next few blogs I will be offering snippets of this, one of the most extraordinary stories in Thoroughbred history with excerpts from both Rivers of Gold, and The horse and the tiger.
… to be continued