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The Kingmaker: How Northern Dancer Founded a Racing Dynasty

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User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


The Kingmaker by Avalyn Hunter

The Kingmaker by Avalyn Hunter

Eclipse Press

The Bottom Line

Northern Dancer is best known not for what he did on the track, but what he did upon retirement. Blood-Horse's breeding expert Avalyn Hunter writes about the "Kingmaker", whose offspring were almost guaranteed to be great on and off the track. The diminutive horse was ignored at auction, allowing E.P. Taylor to race the colt himself. The "Dancer" put Canadian breeding and racing on the world stage in a big way, and his influence continues. Hunter's book is a tribute to the world's greatest sire.
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  • An excellent tribute to the world's greatest sire by one of the world's top pedgree experts
  • Great learning tool for those interested in Thoroughbred bloodlines back to the 1700's
  • His sire and dam are given their due, as both were impressive on the track
  • Hunter effortlessly demonstrates why Northern Dancer is the undisputed Kingmaker


  • No fault was found in this well-researched, well-written work


  • Here are some of the offspring that made Northern Dancer the "Kingmaker":
  • Nijinsky: English Triple Crown winner, sire of Green Dancer, Lammtarra, Royal Academy, Sky Classic
  • Vice Regent: Champion sire in Canada, and sire of champion sire Deputy Minister
  • Lyphard: Leading U.S. sire, and the sire of Alzao, Bellypha, Dancing Brave, and Manila,
  • Danzig: Sire of Chief's Crown, Dance Smartly, Danehill, Green Desert, Langfuhr, and War Chant
  • Dixieland Band: Sire of Bowman's Band, Citidancer, Dixie Brass, and Dixie Union
  • Nureyev: French champion miler and sire of Theatrical, Peintre Celebre and Spinning World
  • Sadler's Wells: Champion miler and classic winner, sire of Barathea, El Prado, In The Wings, Montjeu
  • The Minstrel: Epsom Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, sire of Palace Music
  • Storm Bird: Champion juvenile in England and Ireland, and the sire of Storm Cat and Summer Squall

Guide Review - The Kingmaker: How Northern Dancer Founded a Racing Dynasty

Looking at the pedigrees of contemporary Thoroughbreds, one name will appear most often. The name, of course, is Northern Dancer, a Canadian-bred colt by Nearctic out of Natalma, the pride and joy of industrialist E.P. Taylor and a national hero in Canada. In her latest book, "The Kingmaker", Avalyn Hunter explains how Northern Dancer came into being, and then how he became the great sire he is. She first gives a comprehensive lesson on Thoroughbred bloodlines, starting at the foundation of the breed in the 1700's. The best lines in history converged in 1961 when Northern Dancer was foaled. The Dancer may have been smaller than most horses, but he took on all comers, winning the Kentucky Derby in a track record 2:00, a record unbroken until the great Secretariat in 1973. After a homecoming win at the Queen's Plate at Woodbine in Toronto, he retired to stud, and when Nijinsky, one of his second crop sons, became the first colt to sweep the English Triple Crown in 35 years, the racing world was forced to take notice. His offspring sold for astronomical prices at yearling sales, as buyers from Europe, America, and the Middle East got into protracted bidding wars. Hunter lists many of his stakes winning progeny; to say they "hit the ground running" would be an understatement. But it was when they went to the breeding shed themselves, the Dancer blood truly did its magic. He is the greatest sire of sires in modern history, as the list above shows, hence the title of "Kingmaker".
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User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
The Kingmaker by Avalyn Hunter, Member destined2see

This book is filled with so much information I had to read it twice. I had the privilege to see his son Nureyev in 1994, then to see a grandson Special Ring in 2010. To know what a small stud colt everyone passed up on because of his size contributed to the thoroughbred world.

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