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Hardy Eustace - November 07

Hardy Eustace: described by owner Lar Byrne as a "very special horse"

  PICTURE: Julian Herbert/Getty Images  

Eustace owner pays tribute to 'special horse'

LAR BYRNE, owner of Hardy Eustace, whose retirement was announced after he ran second to Footy Facts at Punchestown on Thursday has paid tribute to the formerdual champion hurdler, describing the 13 year old as "a very special horse".

Byrne said on Thursday: "Hardy has meant an awful lot to me and my family, right from day one. I remember before he won the Land Rover Bumper at Fairyhouse back in 2002, Dessie (Hughes) telling us that he was a good one.

"Little did we realise at the time just how good he was going to be. To win at the Cheltenham Festival three years in a row was huge and we had many other good days with him including an Irish Champion Hurdle win. It was a golden era for Irish-trained hurdlers and he was one of the best of them."

Lar Byrne

Lar Byrne: "Hardy has meant an awful lot to me and my family"

  PICTURE: Caroline Norris  

Hardy Eustace will remain in Hughes's yard and be ridden out for the rest of the season. "When summer comes he'll be off to my sister Catherine and her husband P J Murphy's farm near Athlone where he has spent his summers over the years " Byrne said.

On the decision to retire the 2004 and 2005 Champion Hurdle winner, Byrne said: "We were going to retire him at the end of last season but when he was brought back to Dessie's yard after his summer break and started hacking and cantering, he was in such good order that we decided to carry on and see how things went.

"But age was catching up on him and he wasn't up to competing in the big races anymore. I think we've done the right thing by retiring him."

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