Champion at two and three and winner of his first 11 starts including the only English Triple Crown of the last 75 years, Nijinsky II and regular jockey Lester Piggott were a formidable combination. Syndicated after his racing career for a record sum, Nijinsky II had smashed the European earnings record, inspired a movie about his career, was voted “Horse of the Millennium” by the UK newspaper, The Sun, and perhaps most significantly, impressed both trainer O’Brien and Piggott as the greatest of all their many champions.
Nijinsky II was Horse of the Year in Europe in 1970, the same year Secretariat was foaled. They were both national heroes, and when the two celebrated stallions came together at Claiborne Farm, their fans came out in droves. Queen Elizabeth II first visited Claiborne Farm in 1984. She was greeted in the farm office, and after saying hello to Claiborne president Seth Hancock, she quickly inquired, “Will we see Nijinsky?” Her Majesty seemed thrilled at the experience of seeing this great champion.
Nijinsky II stood his entire career at Claiborne and sired 155 stakes winners, breaking the record established by his sire, Northern Dancer. His 17 champions include English Derby winners Lammtarra and Golden Fleece; English Guineas winner Shadeed; Irish classic winners Kings Lake and Mashaallah; French Derby winner Caerleon; Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ferdinand; Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Royal Academy; and the remarkable fillies Cherry Hinton, De La Rose, and Princesse Lida. And those are just the champions.
Nijinsky II is buried at Claiborne Farm.