Harry Eustace Continues Family Training Tradition

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James and Harry Eustace with Coverham | Emma Berry

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Within the same week that Thady Gosden joined his father John on the joint-training licence at Clarehaven, across town a metaphorical baton was passed from father to son at one of Newmarket's most historic stables, Park Lodge. 

This has been both home and place of business to James and Gay Eustace for a little over 30 years and the time has come for their eldest son Harry to convert his extensive and diverse apprenticeship into becoming a trainer in his own right. James has thus stood aside for Harry to take over the licence and the running of the stable, while he and Gay maintain an involvement as directors of the company. 

Despite the fact that training partnerships were recently introduced in Britain, and that the couple's other son, David, now trains in partnership with Ciaron Maher in one of the most successful stables in Australia, James is content with their new arrangement, which is still very much a family business.

He says. “I think [partnerships are] a very good idea, but we've planned this for a few years, really. Obviously, having training partnerships has been a marvellous opportunity for David, our youngest son. He's got a fantastic position in Australian racing due to training partnerships. Harry is now two years older than I was when I first took out a licence. He's got an amazing CV, far better than I had. He will make an excellent trainer. And, frankly, it's his time.”

Eustace senior is good at heaping praise on others, not that his assessment of his son is at all wide of the mark. Harry has more than served his time as understudy, not just by growing up in a stable in the heart of Newmarket, but by working as assistant at home and around the world to William Haggas, Chris Wall, Jeremy Noseda, Lee and Anthony Freedman, Peter and Paul Snowden and Christophe Clement, as well as completing the highly regarded Irish National Stud course. But in a business in which competitiveness, and a potential range of tricky traits that go hand-in-hand with that rivalry, James Eustace has remained the epitome of the type of Englishman which is fast vanishing: charming, decent, honest and, above all, self-effacing. 

For example, he says of his Park Lodge predecessor, Ron Sheather, trainer of the top-class sprinter-miler Chief Singer (Ire), “I think Ron trained for 13 years and he trained a Group winner every year bar one, and never had more than 30 horses. It took me 13 years to train a Group winner. I mean that is an amazing record. I don't personally think he ever really got the credit he deserved for the quality of trainer that he was.”

Of his own stepping down from the limelight, Eustace adds, “I don't need to see my name in the paper. You know, I've been there, done it. I do think one man has got to make the decisions. And, frankly, I'll be very relaxed not having to make the decisions. It's over to Harry now. So in a way, I've got the best of every world. I ride the hack out two lots every day and have all the pleasures, but none of the stress—or a lot less of the stress anyway.”

However steady one's temperament, there is of course no avoiding a certain amount of stress when it comes to the business of training racehorses. Harry appears to have a similarly laidback and friendly approach to life as his father, and he admits that he has plenty to thank his distaff line for as well. His mother Gay is the daughter of Alan and Diane Oughton, and the sister of David Oughton, trainer of G1 Golden Jubilee S. winner Cape Of Good Hope (GB) (Inchinor {GB}).

“Frankly, she's the one with the pedigree,” says Harry. “Both her parents trained, and her brother trained very successfully in Hong Kong, and brought a Royal Ascot winner over. She's the one who actually has the background for it, and knows the industry very well. She certainly knows how to run a business impeccably well.”

He adds with a grin, “Unfortunately, Mum has introduced monthly accounts meetings, which means I can't get too loose with the spending. So we'll just have to keep track of those. I think for the first ten years that they trained here, it was, you know, belt-tightening stuff. I'm sure Dad would agree that the reason it managed to keep going in the early days is that Mum ran an incredibly tight ship. So without her, neither of us would be sitting here. Well, that's definitely true for me anyway!”

The Eustaces bought Park Lodge Stables from Chief Singer's owner Jeff Smith, who in turn had taken over its ownership from Richard Galpin of the Newmarket Bloodstock Agency in order to ensure that Ron Sheather could continue to train from the yard adjacent to Newmarket's famous Jockey Club Rooms. 

Smith, whose breeding operation is based at Littleton Stud in Hampshire, has remained a loyal supporter throughout the three decades, with his homebred Orcadian (GB) (Kirkwall {GB}) having been trained by Eustace to win five races, including the G3 St Simon S. and listed August S.

A portrait on the kitchen wall depicts Orcadian with two of his stable-mates of the time: the listed winners Welcome Stranger (GB) (Most Welcome {GB}), a homebred for Henry and Rosemary Moszkowicz, and Rachel Wilson's homebred Ruby Wine (GB), who owns a footnote in history as the sole Flat stakes winner for her sire Kayf Tara (GB). Such owner-breeders have been the mainstay of many of the country's smaller stables for generations, but as times change all trainers have had to adapt, and syndicates are now a major part of many operations. 

One of those at Park Lodge Stables, Blue Peter Racing is a nod to the yard's most illustrious former resident, Lord Rosebery's 1939 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Blue Peter (GB), trained by Jack Jarvis. The box from which the colt was trained is now occupied by six-time winner Coverham (Ire) (Bated Breath {GB}), who was James Eustace's final runner on Mar. 26. The Classic winner's old stable still has his name painted on the back wall, along with strips of Lord Rosebery's colours of primrose and rose.

Eustace is a walking history book when it comes to his yard, which dates back to the 17th century and was once owned by William Crockford, who was responsible for starting Newmarket's gambling halls in the early part of the 19th century. A further link to that history for the current incumbent is that Eustace was introduced to racing by his old schoolfriend and fellow Newmarket trainer William Jarvis, the great nephew of Blue Peter's trainer. 

He says, “Jack Jarvis trained here from the end of the First World War until he died in the winter of 1968, and Sleeping Partner (GB) won the Oaks in 69. He trained here for 50 years and trained a lot of good horses, including Blue Peter, who was odds-on to become a Triple Crown winner but then the St Leger was cancelled because of the outbreak of the Second World War. The [National Horseracing] museum used to have his Gallops Book and it was open at Blue Peter's last trial before the Leger. There were some amazingly good horses in this trial and Jack Jarvis wrote underneath something like, 'this is the best piece of work I have ever watched'.”

Eustace continues, “Jeff Smith bought the yard when Richard Galpin had to sell, and that was really in order for Ron to be able to carry on training here. Ron and Jeff were a great partnership and it's a measure of Jeff Smith that after Chief Singer was syndicated to stud, he said to Ron that he could have the yard as a gift or the equivalent in money.”

He adds, “I'm delighted to say that Jeff is carrying on supporting Harry. In fact, all our owners, to a man, have stayed, in spite of Covid and all the rest of it.”

As the pandemic first struck, Harry Eustace was wrapping up his tenure with William Haggas by overseeing the training of Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) and Young Rascal (Fr) (Intello {Ger}) in Australia, where they each won Group races, with Addeybb notching a Group 1 double. He has first-hand experience of stables large and small and is relishing the possibility of getting his hands on a classy performer like the stable's former star War Artist (Aus) (Orpen), who won the G2 Golden Peitsche as well as finishing runner-up in the G1 Golden Jubilee S. for James Eustace.

He says, “The beauty of growing up with Dad is that with a smaller stable, each winner is incredibly precious. Also when a good horse does come around, you know, there's a stark contrast. So you try and manage them particularly well to make them last as a successful racehorse at their highest level for as long as you can. They're very hard to come by, so when they do come around, you want to look after them.”

Harry continues, “I also worked for a fantastic horseman in Christophe Clement. He was brilliant with horses and was incredibly patient and allowed horses time to mature. He gave them longevity, which I think is something that now more than ever is something that we need to think about. Certainly on the Flat, because the jumps game has horses people can get behind because they're around a while, but I think if we can have Flat horses that are around a while, that will only help us.”

While concentrating on his own first days as a trainer, Harry has also been keeping an eye on his brother's stable, which claimed another Group 1 at the weekend with the imported Sir Dragonet (Ire) (Camelot {GB}).

He adds, “It's very easy to keep in touch with anyone anywhere now, so we're always in touch, and it's equally easy to follow runners and winners. We're obviously incredibly proud of what he's done down there. They've sort of taken it to another level. They're so far clear in the Victorian premiership and Sir Dragonet was a real feather in the cap.”

And he is keen to emulate his fellow Newmarket trainers such as William Haggas, Ed Dunlop and Charlie Fellowes in campaigning horses abroad, particularly on his brother's new patch.

“Travelling horses is the new norm really,” Harry says. “I think it's what people are always thinking about. For that reason, having worked abroad in most of the major racing jurisdictions, knowing people where your horse is going to run, can only be an added bonus. In particular Australia, having my brother down there will help. So to take a horse down there, that would be the dream.”

In the meantime, Newmarket is about to burst back into life with next week's Craven Meeting, though the name Harry Eustace could appear on a race card before that as the town's newest trainer has an entry at Lingfield on Saturday with Potenza (Ire) (Born To Sea {Ire}), already a three-time winner for the stable.

“We've got 30 [horses] in and about 35 on the books,” he says. “We'd be about 50/50 2-year-olds to older horses. Predominately the 3-year-olds are quite lightly raced—very kindly, Dad looked after them last year. Hopefully a couple of them can progress. Then we're just fingers crossed that a 2-year-old can step up and and be half decent.”

And despite there being a different name on the licence, there's very much an echo of the old Eustace modesty and manners that people have become accustomed to as Harry concludes, “But we're very lucky that everybody stayed and some new people have come in. To back a first-up trainer, I think takes a bit of courage, so it's very kind of them to do so.”

 

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