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Reader Russ Fisher had a question about “the effect that the Nasrullah blood seems to have had with” the family of Rough Shod, which has produced such stars as Ridan, Moccasin, Apalachee, Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, Blame, and others.

In particular, Fisher said, “It looks like Nasrullah was able to bring out the distance genes found far back in the family.”

One way of looking at this is through the prism of dosage. As used by Franco Varola, dosage categorized many of the Nearco horses, including Nasrullah as brilliant, others as trans-brilliant or intermediate. But in Varola’s usage that wasn’t a distance evaluation but rather a humanistic assessment of the horse’s dynamics.

In essence, being brilliant meant having speed (and usually high energy) but also the potential to race a distance or get horses capable of doing so. Certainly that was true of Nasrullah, who was a splendid 2yo and matured well at 3 to be third in the Derby, run at Newmarket in 1943 because of WWII.

So, the “nervous energy” that Federico Tesio writes about is a significant part of what I think of as brilliance in racing aptitude. It’s the energy, enthusiasm, fire, and determination that puts lead in the pencil, or high-test petrol in the tank of your sports car. Too much of this energy can cause a horse to be unreliable as a racing prospect; too little and you’ve a nice pasture ornament.

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