Prominent standardbred breeder and owner R. Peter Heffering passed away at the age of 80 on Saturday, March 3. His passing is a tremendous loss to North America’s harness racing and agricultural community. A Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame inductee, Peter was also a breeder of champion Holstein cattle. His Hanover Hill Holstein herd was arguably the most famous Holstein herd in the world for many years.
In 1989, Heffering made his entrance into harness racing and enjoyed great success. He owned, either in whole or in part, an impressive list of horses that included Precious Bunny, Riyadh, Pacific Rocket, Kadabra, Strong Yankee, and Majestic Son. His champions won the most coveted races in the sport, including the Little Brown Jug, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, Breeders Crown and numerous Ontario Sires Stakes events.
In 1996 he and his son David opened Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, Ontario, that is today one of North America’s premier Standardbred breeding operations. In 2012, 11 stallions stand in their state-of-the art stallion barn. Heffering bred a number of elite Standardbreds, including 2001 U.S. Horse of the Year Bunny Lake, a winner of over $3 million as well as $1.3 million-winner Precious Delight.
Born in the state of New York to Canadian parents, Peter earned a degree in Animal Husbandry at the State University of New York (Canton). In 2004, he received the first ever honourary doctorate awarded by SUNY Canton in Animal Science.
Peter is survived by his wife Apryll, son David and his wife Nora, grand daughters Taylor and Abbie. He was predeceased by his son Richard who passed away last year.
There will be an announcement of a celebration of Peter’s life later this spring.
Source: Standardbred Canada