It drives us to be the best, and two years have passed since Harry Eustace took over at the helm of his family’s Park Lodge. It is a legacy that drives him every single day.
He is the son of legendary trainer James Eustace, who has achieved international acclaim as a multiple Group race winner.
His brother is David Eustace, who, since partnering with Ciaron Maher in Australia, has also seen success, including winning last year’s Melbourne Cup with Gold Trip.
Born and raised in Newmarket's horse-centric environment, at the family's Park Lodge, his current home,
"Dad was an assistant trainer who began training me when I was one of the Park Lodge kids."
"For me, depending on whom you ask, I luckily grew up in Newmarket." Opinions vary on Newmarket, but
"I feel I was very fortunate to grow up here in a horse racing environment."
Born into the industry, his father’s career greatly influenced Eustace.
"We obviously grew up and around horses, so it was part of life to have horses as such a great part.
"It wasn’t a case of the passion just arriving, as we were around horses all the time, but from the start, we were a part of the business as much as we could be growing up." "Whether it was riding ponies or helping out in the yard, we did everything we could."
Growing up in places like Newmarket and Park Lodge, Eustace admitted that, while he was passionate about the industry, it may not have turned out the way it did in some cases.
"I think it can sort of push you one of two ways, actually." Either you don't connect with the environment at all, or you do and it becomes a part of your daily life.That was very much the case for my brother and me as part of our upbringing. After being at school, we were in the yard around horses, so that was just our normal day.
He would pursue studies at university in a field far away from the world of horse racing, and as Eustace tells it, it was all part of the greater plan.
"I studied chemistry; I decided to go for a degree in case horse racing or training didn’t work—which actually is not the sort of motivation you need to do that sort of thing."
"It helped clarify for me that what I actually always wanted to do was be a trainer, and it helped me make the decision a lot easier, I can tell you that." So it was at that point that I knew I wanted to be a trainer.
Eustace would not complete his studies but instead took the first step in his training career and boarded a plane for Australia, where he worked with Lee and Anthony Freeman and Paul and Peter Snowden.
With an education under trainers of this calibre, along with Christophe Clement in the United States and William Haggas in the UK, Eustace says the lessons learned set him on track for his own career.
Early Experience at the Highest Level
These lessons led to career highlights that he will never forget.
"Personally, there are quite a few along the way. I was extremely fortunate to care for him—not all the way through, sadly, but in his early stages as a two-year-old.I actually took him to the races when he won his first start before having to fly back home myself. "I followed his career, which was brilliant to follow and watch," he remembers with passion in his voice.
The son of Elusive Quality, trained by dual Everest winner Peter Snowden, retired in 2016 after a stellar career in which he won ten races, including four Group Ones, and earned A$3.8 million in prize money.
"When I worked for Christoph Clement, I also was able to see Tonalist win the Belmont." "That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I'll never forget."
The Tapit colt won the 2014 edition of the Belmont Stakes, beating the favourite California Chrome and, in turn, denying him his campaign to win the Triple Crown.
"Then, when I worked for William Haggis, there were obviously a few."
"I believe this is also my first win.""I'll never forget that because that’s always important."
His first winner was Coverham at Yarmouth in April 2021, after taking over training duties a week earlier from his father.
"He was a stable favourite and had been with dad for four or five years. He was just a horse, and that sort of sums up the old man and horse racing, really. He was a lovely horse to deal with and had a great nature. "He always tried, and it was just very apt that he was my first winner."
In 2021, he took over the helm of Park Lodge from his father and will always be passionate and understanding of the decision to do so.
"It's home. We are all incredibly proud whenever we bring people here.
"It's a lovely yard, and mom and dad have kept it immaculate all these years." It's allowed me a level of stability and security starting off in my career, too. I don’t want to say it has allowed me to be riskier, but it has allowed me to take chances in other areas because, as you know, we have that bedrock of Park Lodge as home.
"It'd be a sad day if one day we had to leave."
Eustace appreciates the advancements in the industry as well as the growing need to move horses and travel them around the world, as well as the growing need to move with the times.
"I think the important thing is to remember that it's still incredibly difficult."
"There are a lot of horses that travel for international meetings, and there are lots of horses that travel for international meetings, and they don’t run well for a variety of reasons, but I think in particular with those sorts of trips, it is the planning beforehand that goes into it that is key."
"Along with everyone involved in the trip understanding what you want from day to day and the business routine,"Understanding the routine of the horse from day one, wherever they are traveling, The progression of the day is very important, as is understanding what you want to happen and how you want the whole day to go for the horse. If you get into a good routine and everyone knows how that looks and how the horse reacts, then you are in as good a position as you can be.
"That is 90% of it, and then after that, you just need that bit of luck to go your way—which is the same with any race you are in."
The Meydan Racecourse calls.
Cite D'Or, a three-year-old filly, is now being prepared for the current UAE season, with races already scheduled for her.
"She flew over on the 29th of December, and she has been there for just over a week now.
"I had never actually personally been to Dubai but have obviously travelled with horses elsewhere. I find that having been there myself in the past has been a massive help when prepping the horses, so I was keen to go out there and suss out the facilities and work out her routine.
Laura, who's taken her, has actually been to Dubai and travelled with horses there a lot, so she has been a massive help.
"But from my personal point of view, to just get an idea of where she is and how she's training every day and just get my bearing—that was very important to me."
"The facilities were fantastic, as I've heard from a lot of other people." Dubai itself was fantastic and a real eye-opener. "I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to going back."
The plans for the filly have been set, with her first race at the end of the month.
"She's going to start off in a seven-furlong fillies race for three-year-olds on the 27th of January, which ticks a lot of boxes for her. I think with her being that level of filly, typically people give them a good holiday through the winter and aim them for the better races for the three-year-olds in Europe.
"I don't want to say it’s a weaker division, but numbers-wise, it's pretty lower in that three-year-old filly category. I would imagine, although I haven’t seen all of the forms from the local runners, that she would bring a greater level of experience than I would have thought.
"Then that race sits perfectly for the Oaks, which is actually on the dirt over a mile and a quarter." Now the dirt is a question mark, but the race fits very nicely, and her last run was actually over a mile and a quarter as a two-year-old. I think one of her big attributes is her stamina.
"I'm hoping this race will really see that to best effect, so that's the plan." Then you have the Guineas on the grass, which is a week after the Oaks, as a sort of backup if we lose a bit of time between her first race and the Oaks or something like that.
"That's a backup, but the original plan is the seven-furlong grass race into the Oaks on the dirt."
Owners of Cite D'Or and the Partnership
The filly is owned by Nick Bradley and his racing syndicate, with Bradley having great trust in Eustace’s ability as a trainer, with Cite D’Or being the first shared in this trainer-owner partnership.
"Cite D’Or was sourced by Nick at a breeze-up sale in France in June. Anthony Bromley, an owner who has bought a few horses for me, was also out there, and Nick asked him his opinion of me, and I suppose it was favourable because he gave me a call and said would I be interested in training her?
"So, I cannot really claim much of the credit for her because Nick found her, sourced her, bought her, and very kindly sent her to me."
"She's been a star, and she is my highest-rated horse in the yard." "We are having plenty of fun with her already, and hopefully we will have plenty more."
She currently has a rating of 101 after winning twice on five occasions after breaking her maiden at Brighton last August.
After her campaign is finished in Dubai, Eustace will see her return home to continue her form and her successes.
"She hasn’t had much of a holiday with our plan for the Dubai campaign in mind. I think it's quite tough on them to wait a month after her return, so I am not sure what her next races will be, but there are Oaks trials she may go for, there is the Pretty Polly at Newmarket, and there is a listed race in France that could be a possibility at a similar sort of time in France.
"So that would be the plan, I would imagine, and then we'll just have to be guided by her after that."
A Growing Stable
The stable has grown with Eustace’s success, and his plan for the upcoming year is for a doubling of numbers from thirty to sixty horses.
"It’s a big jump in numbers, but it is fantastic! "We just had a nice response post-sales from people that you'd love to have horses for, and frankly, it's a big credit to the whole yard and the team in the yard who work tirelessly all year to give us such a good season to be rewarded with that."
The stable has Cite d'Or as its star, but Eustace says that there are other stars in waiting on which an eye should be kept.
"Yeah, so Docklands and Couplet are the 3YOs at this stage that we are most looking forward to."
Docklands is a three-year-old colt owned by O T I Racing who has only raced once, finishing second last August at Haydock.
"He had a good run when he was second timed out.""I think he needs to win his maiden and act on the racecourse the way he acts at home, and what we see at home from him is very encouraging."
The 3YO colt, Couplet, won his only start at Haydock last September.
"Winning that only start of hers was visually quite impressive, so she'll have a few targets in some clinical trials, and she trains well at home and carries it on, so that’s where she will go, and we will let the racecourse tell us where our ceilings are."
"As far as the two-year-old crop goes, I've got a profitable colt that looks quite forward and whom I like quite a lot. which is handy as I currently still own him.
"I also have two nice Australia-based Zoustar colts; one, in particular, is owned by bloodstock agent Suman Hedge and his syndicate of owners. So far, he appears to be of high quality.We'll be taking our time with those. "I don't think they're necessarily early types, but they just look to have a bit of quality at this stage."
While Eustace uses the knowledge and experience passed down to him from his father, matched with the education he received under the trainers, he has had the opportunity to work with two key lessons that he sees as helping him spur his career further.
"Yeah, I think it's two things, really." One is just a general mindset of how I want to train racehorses, which is a personal thing too. That is why, in every country, some people are better with 2 year olds in general, while others are better with stayers or older horses.It’s a general culture around them.
"I don't think I learned anything specific from these guys—I think it was more the experiences themselves and just being around them."The better horses and the more situations you're around, the more you absorb about how you deal with those sorts of horses, and that's really all there is to it.
"I think the biggest thing I learned from dad is that it's a marathon, not a sprint." You know, once you decide to start training racehorses, hopefully there will be horses around 24/7, all year, every year. Although you want to work at the top level all the time, like I said, you've been doing it for a long time. My dad trained for a long time, and that as much as anything is a credit to him because, you know, it's tough.
"There are good times and bad times, and I think that's something I knew about training racehorses more than anything else because we grew up with it and knew how hard he (his father) worked all the time."
Carrying the Flag
Only 34 years old, Eustace talks passionately about the building of legacies, his ilk, and the great Godolphin trainer James Cummings.
"I think it's really a testament to the sport that we want to carry on in it."
"And if we didn't, or if it looked like too much hard work or was actually not as good or enjoyable as it looked, then we wouldn't do it, because we know firsthand how hard it is for our families." But it's such a unique sport that I believe it will always be that slightly old school sort of handing it down to the younger generation in terms of training setups or even on the stud side.
"It's very important in racing that they carry on." I mean, it's not to say that people outside of racing without those family backgrounds cannot be some of the best. "I'm incredibly lucky, but you only have to look at somebody like Anabel Neasham down there (in Australia), who is a great example of someone who has really taken the sport by storm and who has a horsey background but doesn’t have the background or leg up that we have."
Eustace’s personality and vibrancy can be seen through the discussion as it comes to an end.
With Cite D’Or ready to begin her campaign and with the young trainer ready to continue his success with returns to Dubai and the Middle East on the cards for the future, the question had to be asked.
"Which race, if you could choose, would you love to win in the Middle East?" —seconds pass before he responds confidently.
"It would have to be the Dubai World Cup." "That's the one everybody wants to win."