"It has its ups and downs for sure. All of us as breeders, we'll come out of [the sales] feeling good some days and other days, we're like, wow, it's just like were hitting ourselves with a hammer... We've had a lot of OBrien Awards, but we never ever got an O'Brien Award for breeder."
David Heffering's Tara Hills Stud Farm Ltd. was recognized for the first time with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year award at the 2023 O'Brien Awards on Saturday, Feb. 3 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
"It's very humbling," said Heffering of the national recognition. "And getting it after seeing the video on Joe O'Brien [during the awards ceremony], it really wakes you up to the fact of being down here in P.E.I. And we sat at a table with a bunch of P.E.I. people in the racehorse business so we had a great time and it went really well."
Horses bred by the Port Perry, Ont.-based farm found the winner’s circle 169 times in while bankrolling more than $3.4 million in 2023 leading up to the Dec. 1 O'Briens voting period. Tattoo Artist (Hes Watching-Stylist Artist), 2023 Older Pacing Horse of the Year, was the farm’s lone $1 million earner this past season, thanks in part to wins in the Canadian Pacing Derby, Jim Ewart Memorial and Dayton Pacing Derby. Storm Shadow (Bettors Delight-Fade) was another one of the breeding farm’s standouts, earning more than $375,000 in his freshman campaign, which was headlined with a win in the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final.
Heffering reflected on the season's highlights, acknowledged the people behind the farm and spoke about his late father, Hall of Famer Peter Heffering's impact on Tara Hills after the awards ceremony in an interview with Standardbred Canada's John Rallis and Jeff Porchak. He also discussed the Ontario Sires Stakes program and revealed the prospects he's excited about for Tara Hills' future operations in the post-O'Brien Awards interview, sponsored by Horse Racing Alberta, which appears below.