Northern Dancer named Equine Canada’s Horse of the Year

He is gone, but not forgotten. Influential thoroughbred sire Northern Dancer has been named the winner of Equine Canada’s 2012 Horse of the Year title, winning the Hickstead Trophy.

Northern Dancer.
Northern Dancer. © Morichal/Wikipedia

Northern Dancer, a Canadian-bred thoroughbred racehorse and the most successful sire of the 20th Century, was foaled in 1961.

The small bay colt was by Nearctic and out of Natalma, by Native Dancer. The following year at the yearling sales held at Windfields in Toronto, Ontario, Northern Dancer didn’t find a buyer willing to pay his reserve price of $25,000, so he joined the Windfields Farm racing stable.

In his two years of racing at the ages of two and three, Northern Dancer won 14 of his 18 races and never finished worse than third, winning prestigious races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and finished third in the Belmont Stakes. After the Belmont, Northern Dancer won Canada’s Queen’s Plate by seven and a half lengths before retiring to stud. He was named North America’s champion three-year-old colt of 1964 and Canadian Horse of the Year.

Northern Dancer’s success continued as a sire where he left an indelible mark on thoroughbred breeding throughout the industry and the world.

“The racing world first took notice when his son Nijinsky II won classic races in England and Ireland in 1970, becoming the first English ‘triple crown’ winner since 1935,” said Tom Cosgrove of Co-Chair, Thoroughbred Nomination, Election and Legends Committees. “Northern Dancer’s sire line remains dominant and can be found in the winners of every major stakes race held around the globe.

“At the 2012 Eclipse Awards, his descendants took home nine of the 11 equine trophies for flat racing,” added Cosgrove, who also worked Windfields Farm from 1969-1973. “Also, his tail-male descendants won more than a third of North American graded stakes last year.”

Northern Dancer’s record as a sire is unmatched with 147 graded stakes winners at least 11 sons who became incredible sires. His granddaughter, Dance Smartly, became the 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner and won 12 of her 17 career starts including the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and over $2 million in prize money.

In Europe, Northern Dancer’s great-grandson Frankel was acclaimed the best horse in the world in 2012 after an unblemished 14-race career.

At the 2013 Equine Canada Annual Awards Gala, on Friday, 8, 2013, in Ottawa, Ontario, Bernard McCormick accepted Equine Canada Horse of the Year Award-the Hickstead Trophy on behalf of the Taylor and Mappin families

McCormick held the positions of General Manager and Director of Sales and Marketing at Windfields Farm from 1987-2008, and currently sits on the Equine Canada  Industry Council and Health and Welfare Committee.

President Michael Gallagher presents the Hickstead Trophy to Bernard McCormick for Northern Dancer.
Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher presents the Hickstead Trophy to Bernard McCormick for Northern Dancer.


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