Hardy Eustace 1997 – 2024

The Irish National Stud are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Hardy Eustace.

In 2015 Hardy Eustace took up residence among his fellow Living Legends at the Irish National Stud following a stellar racing career. Bred by Pat Joyce, Hardy Eustace was the winner of 14 races, 8 of which were at Grade 1 level, over a long and illustrious career.

Hardy Eustace harnessed his great bravery and heart to memorably storm up the Cheltenham hill three years in a row to land the Grade 1 Sun Alliance Hurdle in 2003, followed by back-to-back victories in the Champion Hurdle. Having spectacularly lowered the colours of the previous Champion Hurdler, Rooster Booster, in a brilliant front running display under Conor O’Dwyer in 2004 he retained his crown in one of the most spectacular finishes in Cheltenham history in 2005.

The race that will forever be remembered for the brilliant cruising speed of Harchibald, will also be remembered for the incredible guts and determination shown by O’Dwyer and Hardy Eustace to repel his challenge by a neck with the great Brave Inca a further neck behind in third.

On this sad day, we also remember fondly, Hardy’s late trainer Dessie Hughes and Kieran Kelly, who steered him to his first Cheltenham success in the Sun Alliance Hurdle in 2003.

His owner Lar Byrne had great memories of a wonderful horse. “It’s a very sad day to announce the passing of the legend Hardy Eustace. Hardy gave us so many special days out and will be forever remembered as a once in a lifetime horse for all the Byrne family. Hardy made us many special friends over his racing career and retirement. I have so many people to thank throughout Hardy’s lifetime. Dessie, Eileen and Sandra Hughes and all the team in Osborne Lodge. Kieran Kelly, Conor O’Dwyer and Paddy Flood. God rest Dessie and Kieran. Thanks to Fiona O’Dwyer who retrained Hardy after his retirement from racing. A big thank you to Leona and all the team in the National Stud who gave Hardy 5 star treatment in his new home since 2015. Thanks for all the great memories Hardy.”

Sandra Hughes added, “Hardy was a horse of a lifetime for my Dad.  He was a beautiful horse with a huge heart who loved racing.   We will cherish the memories. I would like to thank Lar for always trusting in Dad during his career, Conor for riding him so brilliantly, not forgetting Kieran Kelly’s wonderful ride in the Sun Alliance and of course a huge thank you to all the staff at the Irish National Stud who have given Hardy a wonderful retirement. It’s a sad day and the end of an era but Hardy Eustace will always have a special place in our hearts”.

Conor O’Dwyer, who rode him to win his two Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham said, “I am very sorry to hear the sad news of his passing, but he had a wonderful life and wonderful retirement. He was a huge part of my career, and it was an honour to be associated with him. My sincere thanks to Lar Byrne & the late great Dessie Hughes.”

INS CEO Cathal Beale said, “Coming on the back of the recent loss of Kicking King and Rite of Passage it is a sad day to report the passing of Hardy Eustace. That era of Irish two-mile hurdlers; Hardy Eustace, Brave Inca, Harchibald, Macs Joy and others lives long in the memory and coincided with an upward turn in Irish fortunes at Cheltenham that we see still see today. He was a lovely gentle horse who lived out his days receiving the greatest of care from all the team here.

I would like to thank his connections for entrusting him to us and pay special tribute once again to Leona Harmon who cares for all our horses with such great affection. He will be deeply missed by everyone at the Irish National Stud.”




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Irish National Stud & Gardens,
Brallistown Little, Tully, Co. Kildare,
R51 KX25, Ireland

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