Hughes heaps praise on retired Hardy

Dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace has earned honourable retirement following defeat at Punchestown on Thursday.

Dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace has earned honourable retirement following defeat at Punchestown on Thursday.

As well as his victories in the Cheltenham showpiece in 2004 and 2005, he also won the 2003 Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.

Although trainer Dessie Hughes believes the veteran still retains plenty of ability, he felt it best to call time on Hardy Eustace’s great career after he finished second to Footy Facts.

“The ground was bottomless and it didn’t suit him at all, but he still ran very well,” said Hughes.

“If the ground had been good I’m sure he would have given an unbelievable performance.

“Anyway, even in that ground the fact that he couldn’t beat Footy Facts means he won’t be able to compete in Grade Ones and there are no other races for him.

“He’s been a good tough horse with a lot of class, and a very healthy one too.”

Now aged 13, the Archway gelding is to remain at Hughes’ stables in Co Kildare.

“He will be ridden out every day until the spring and he’ll go out to grass in the summer and we’ll bring him back in again I’m sure,” he went on.

“He won’t want to do nothing, so we’ll have to keep him moving. We’ll keep him happy and it’s nice to have horses like him in the yard.”

Hardy Eustace, owned by Laurence Byrne, won 15 of his 46 starts, including seven Grade Ones and amassed over £1m (€1.1m) in prize money.

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