‘Thank you for the beauty you left to global breeding’: farewell to top sire Heartbreaker

  • Legendary showjumping sire Heartbreaker has died aged 32, leaving a dominant dynasty competing at the top level across the world.

    The Nijhof family announced that Heartbreaker had died from old age on 10 April and paid tribute to the son of Nimmerdor as “one of the most important pillars” of the stud.

    The stallion was bought by Henk Nijhof from Meinte Jensma in 1989, and had a stellar competition career of his own, as well as the legacy he leaves as a sire.

    “In 1997 we started the breeding station in Geesteren Gld,” said the family tribute.

    “Heartbreaker was the first stallion at our station 24 years ago. He has a special place in our hearts.

    “Many thanks to Silvia Evers who took care of him with heart and soul in recent years. Heartbreaker, thank you for everything and for all the beauty you have left to global breeding.”

    Heartbreaker competed at elite level with Dutchman Peter Geerink; their results included the leading showjumper of the year title at Horse of the Year Show 2000 and fourth in the 1999 Aachen grand prix.

    But it was Heartbreaker’s legacy in the sport in the form of his descendants for which he will be best remembered.

    He was listed on the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horse’s sire rankings for seven consecutive seasons, and was said to have three sons and 15 grandsons competing at the 2014 World Equestrian Games.

    His sons include the prolific international grand prix winner Romanov II, piloted by Britain’s Phillip Spivey before going to Ireland’s Billy Twomey and latterly Bertram Allen. His many approved stallion sons include Cidane, Toulon, Zambesi, Action Breaker and Halifax Van Het Kluizebox.

    His best-known grandchildren include Scott Brash’s London 2012 team Olympic gold and Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping winner Hello Sanctos, who is by Quasimodo Van De Molenreef (Heartbreaker x Lys de Darmen), and the great Cornet Obolensky (Clinton x Heartbreaker).

    The late Hearts Destiny, who competed at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and helped Britain to team silver at the 2019 Europeans, also counted Heartbreaker as a grandsire, as did five- and six-year-old young horse world champion HH Earley.

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    The achievements of his offspring meant Heartbreaker was given KWPN’s highest accolade for a stallion, “preferent”, and in 2016 he was crowned KWPN horse of the year for his contribution to sport horse breeding.

    A WBFSH tribute added: “We are very sad to hear of the passing of the one and only Heartbreaker. His legend and enormous influence live on in his offspring. What a fantastic life and legacy.”

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