R. Peter Heffering Passes

Published: March 3, 2012 03:59 pm EST

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.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:

The Hospice by the Sea, 531 West Palmetto Park Road Boca Raton, FL 33486, (561) 416-5009 or (800) 633-2577, or;

The Bridge to Success Scholarship, SUNY Canton College Foundation 34 Cornell Driv, Canton, NY 13617 Phone: 315-386-7127 or (800) 811-6727

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering sincere condolences to the family and friends of R. Peter Heffering.



What a wonderful individual Peter Heffering was. As a neighbour he would be willing to help us out at any time. Our prayers and thoughts go from our family to his.
Mike, Jo-Anne, Kevin, Chris and Denise McGriskin

With our deepest condolences we extend to the family of Peter Heffering. Without question the most outstanding start of a race was Precious Bunny in the Jug! I know Peter was very proud that day. God Bless Peter.
Little Brown Jug Society

My condolences to the entire Heffering family. Peter was such a great person and advocate to the sport of harness racing this is a tremendous loss. We will really miss his input.

There passed a Legend. Deepest condolences to Apryll; David, Nora & the girls. Ralph Sucee

We're all going to miss "Big Pete". He was the most down to earth individual I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Sincere condolences to Apryll, David and family.

This is very sad news, our industry will miss Peter he was a standout and always respected by everyone who ever met with him. My deepest sympathy to the Heffering family.

Such a gentleman to deal with and a true innovator. The horse racing community will miss him dearly. R.I.P. Mr. Heffering.

Apryll, David & family,
This is a such a tragic loss of an icon. I have known Peter for 30 years, as my father trained the first Standardbred Peter ever owned. He did and has meant so much for this industry, he was larger than life.
RIP big guy and I hope you win every tennis match you play.

Peter Heffering was the smartest cattleman and horseman I have ever met.
He will be very much missed.

I'm so very sad to hear this. What a wonderful partner and even better friend he was to Patty and I. My sympathy to Apryll, David & family. The harness racing world has lost a great friend.

This was a man whose imprint on animal husbandry, breeding and racing is virtually unmatched. We mourn his passing and celebrate his extraordinary life - and we are privileged to have David continue in the tradition of his father. We offer condolences to Apryll, David and the rest of the family.
Angie and Cal

A Gentleman with whom I was fortunate enough to get my career started.

Our love and thoughts are with Apryll, David, and families.

Duane and Janet

My deepest sympathies. Having heard of Peter's achievements in the Holstein business I was delighted to have the honour to become closely associated with him as an adviser, partner and friend when he and David arrived to achieve great and continuing success in our beleagered industry. The ultimate compliment is that when anyone anywhere in harness racing mentioned "Peter" there was instant recognition. A great loss of a quality person.

Over the last 20 years it has been a great pleasure and honor to have been able to work with Peter and his family. Our condolences to Apryll, David and all the family.
Dr.Bernd Kretzschmar
London Equine Hospital

A tremendous loss for the industry. One of the nicest men I ever had the pleasure of meeting in my 50 years in the business.
Jerry Glantz

A larger than life individual that was a legend in the cattle and standardbred racing industry. A true friend that I was very fortunate to have known. He will be extremely missed but never forgotton.