Cool Dawn

Cool Dawn National Hunt chaser of the 1990s

  • b g Over the River – Aran Tour (Arapaho)
  • Foaled: 11 May 1988
  • Races: 16 Wins: 6
  • Breeder: J McCarthy
  • Trainer: Robert Alner
  • Owner: D Harding

Cool Dawn 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner

COOL DAWN, bought as a safe conveyance in point-to-points, made a glorious nonsense of his early low-key aspirations with a pillar-to-post victory in the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup yesterday.

His owner Dido Harding had asked trainer Robert Alner to find her a horse she could enjoy riding in points. But Cool Dawn, a 25-1 outsider yesterday, became too talented for that world and Alner eventually had to jock off the owner as the horse progressed in the professional ranks.

But never in their wildest dreams did they think the 10-year-old would rise to yesterday’s dizzy heights

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Under a bold, front-running ride from jockey-in-form Andrew Thornton, Cool Dawn refused to be denied up the final historic hill and outgunned Strong Promise by one and three-quarter lengths. Dorans Pride, the 9-4 favourite, was a head back in third, with Senor El Betrutti fourth.

The major drama of the race unfolded at the seventh fence, where Cyborgo suffered a serious back injury and, in being pulled up, took one-time favourite See More Business and Indian Tracker out of the race.

“I had no warning. They pulled in front of me and there was nothing I could do. It was all too late,” said See More Business’s jockey Timmy Murphy. “I don’t think words can describe how I felt.”

Cool Dawn was clear of the mayhem, but after leading all the way he appeared to have given his all turning for home with two to jump. Strong Promise loomed up cruising in his familiar overdrive and it seemed merely a question of when he would take over.

But Cool Dawn’s courage and Thornton’s indomitable spirit are not to be underestimated. Strong Promise’s dynamic leap at the last swept him ahead, but only momentarily

The lung-bursting run to the line brought out special qualities in Cool Dawn and Thornton, who was capping a memorable season which has also included victory in the King George VI Chase on See More Business.

Cool Dawn’s Cheltenham build-up suffered a setback when he was pulled up in the Racing Post Chase with a trapped nerve.

Alner said: “He’s had intensive physiotherapy since, and I was told he was all right. But the acid test is to run.

“He’s a horse that, once he’s challenged, he does fight. I watched the finish and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Quite honestly, I thought he might win a minor prize.”

Alner, who won the National Hunt Chase on Domason at the 1970 Festival, went on: “He’s entered in the Whitbread Gold Cup but we’re not thinking straight at the moment.”

Cool Dawn is quoted at 16-1 by William Hill for a follow-up in next year’s Gold Cup, for which Florida Pearl is 6-1 favourite.

Alner, who bought Cool Dawn from Tom Costello in Ireland, will be up at five this morning to drive his runners to Folkestone.

Thornton, a former schoolboy rugby fly-half for Co Durham, has gained the necessary confidence this season that enabled him to grab the Gold Cup by the throat.

The jockey has always insisted every moment is to be enjoyed. He stepped forward on the winner’s rostrum in front of the Queen Mother. He raised the Gold Cup and kissed it. “I wanted to make sure I breathed in the big moment and enjoyed it,” he smiled.