I thought accessing information on Nearctic would be relatively simple. I had, after-all, written both E.P.Taylor: horseman and his horses, and Northern Dancer: the legend and his legacy. I had worked for the Taylor family as rider-in-residence at their Windfields estate. Taylor’s daughter, Judith Mappin, was a close friend and business partner in our publishing company, Beach House Books.
I began my research at Windfields. Office manager, Loraine O’Brien, had catalogued, filed, and stashed every scrap of paper pertaining to the farm, its horses, and employees. Everything was stored in large cardboard filing boxes in a locked storage room above the old stud barn. On top of each box she had methodically listed the contents. Loraine looked up Nearctic and the corresponding box number and off we went. Hence was confident I would easily find the answer to any and all questions regarding Nearctic very quickly. That done, I would return to writing my column for Japan’s Weekly Gallop.
The storage room was small and hot, the air was close and stale. After several hours we had come up with one slim file folder containing Nearctic’s registration, the cover of the June 1959 US Jockey Club Racing Calendar featuring a photo of Nearctic, and copies of a couple of press clippings.
It didn’t seem possible. Nearctic was the sire of Northern Dancer, grand-sire of Nijinsky. Genetically, he was not only one very important animal, he was the most exquisitely-bred horse ever born in Canada. Furthermore, he raced for years.
I, of course, had no intention of writing a book about Nearctic. Not then. I just wanted answers. …. to be continued.