Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tesio was the "Wizard of Dormello"

As a pedigree researcher, not only do I love to study the pedigrees of Thoroughbreds but I also enjoy learning as much as I can about great breeders from the past and their breeding methods. One of the all-time great breeders and my personal favorite was Federico Tesio who not only bred his horses but he trained them as well.

Known as the “Wizard of Dormello”, Tesio was not a wealthy man but during the span of over 50 years he bred at his Dormello Stud in Northern Italy 22 Derby Italiano winners including the great Donatello and Nearco. From modest beginnings, Tesio achieved International fame and his Thoroughbreds continue today to have a genetic impact on the breed world-wide.

For the serious student of pedigree studies, Tesio In His Own Words (288 pages) is a very good book that illustrates many of Tesio’s personal insights and observations of the Thoroughbred. Published by The Russell Meerdink Company, LTD., the book is a faithful translation of the author’s original book published in 1947: Puro-Sangue – Animale Da Esperimento (The Pure Blood – An Animal of Experimentation).

The brief notation in the forward by John Hilsop, noted author and breeder of the great Brigadier Gerard, sums up the accomplishments of Tesio:

When those of my generation come to be asked by their grandchildren “Who was the greatest breeder, the outstanding sire, the best racehorse of your time?” – the answer will probably be Tesio, Nearco and Ribot. ..for it is unlikely that any modern breeder will achieve comparable success of Senator Tesio.

In His Own Words Tesio has many interesting insights and observations on genetics and what he looks for in a Champion Thoroughbred.

On the subject of speed and endurance, Tesio noted: For 50 years I have carefully studied the pedigrees of over a thousand horses that have won the great races, examining these pedigrees to the 7th and occasionally to the 12th generation. I learned that to maintain the characteristic of winning endurance it is necessary to occasionally introduce the blood of sprinters over 1400 and 1600 meters. (page 166).

Another very good book written by Tesio is Breeding The Racehorse (130 pages) published by J. A. Allen & Company Limited. There is some repetition of the material found in Tesio In His Own Words but, in my opinion, the book is a must read for the Tesio fan.

Tesio Master of Matings (164 pages) is in my opinion the definitive work on Tesio. Noted author and bloodstock agent Ken McLean spent 15 years researching material for the book and he gives the reader an in-depth look at the breeding methods of Tesio and how he achieved International recognition.

The book is out of print and any copies that are available for sale are usually very pricey. But if you are a Tesio fan and can find a copy, I believe it is worth the high price tag.

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