‘Bittersweet day’: Melbourne Cup winners in shock split

One of the country’s elite horse racing training partnerships will split in 2024, with David Eustace set to leave the Ciaron Maher stable to take up a role in Hong Kong.

With 40 victories together at the Group 1 level – including an unforgettable triumph in the 2022 Melbourne Cup with Gold Trip – the announcement was made on Thursday morning that the pair would go their separate ways in the new year.

Eustace joined forces at the top level with Maher in 2018 and the pair have since cemented themselves at the forefront of Australian racing, taking out four-straight Victorian Trainers Championships and the most recent National Trainers Championship.

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“This is a bittersweet announcement,” Maher said in a statement on social media.

“Bitter, because it will be difficult to replace someone with David’s skills, work ethic and all-round contribution. Sweet, because it’s a fitting reward for David and at the same time gives CMR a great opportunity to evolve and develop.

“He has been alongside me from the early days through thick and thin. I know we couldn’t have reached our current position as champion trainers of Australia without him – and his Hong Kong appointment is recognition of that.

“I am certain he will be very successful there. This is not the end of our relationship, just a new chapter and both of us are confident that our relationship will continue in some form that will be to the benefit of both operations and their owners.”

Eustace arrived in Australia back in 2014 and began to rise through the ranks, with his reputation led to the official partnership with Maher five years ago.

Ahead of his move overseas, Eustace thanked the team for allowing him to grow into a highly-regarded trainer, helping take out some of the biggest races in NSW and Victoria.

“Obviously, I am thrilled to be offered the position in Hong Kong; it has always been a dream of since I was a boy,” he said.

“It’s exciting and a challenge I will relish, however I will miss being part of this extraordinary operation.

“I will forever be grateful to Ciaron for the opportunities he has given me, for teaching me so much, to opening my eyes to the importance of data and analytics and the fundamental importance of sports science.”

Eustace isn’t the first trainer to be developed under Maher’s tutelage to move onto brighter things, with multi-time Group 1 winner Annabel Neasham also plying her trade at the stable earlier in her career.

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