Dawn Run

Dawn Run the most successful racemare in the history of National Hunt racing

  • bay mare by Deep Run out of Twilight Slave
  • Foaled: 1978
  • Died: 1986
  • Races: 35 Wins: 21
  • Trainer: Paddy Mullins
  • Owner: Charmaine Hill

Dawn Run the Most Successful Racemare in the History of National Hunt Racing

Dawn Run was foaled in 1978 in County Cork, Ireland and sold for 5,800 guineas at auction to Charmaine Hill. Sent to Paddy Mullins to be trained, she ran her first race at Clonmel in a National Hunt flat race. She failed to win on her debut but did score on her third outing at Tralee.

After her education in bumpers, Dawn Run’s true talents came to the fore as she switched to hurdling. In 1983 she was the runner up in the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, and went one better at Aintree the following month. Dawn Run showed how tough she was by chasing home Gaye Brief the following day in the Templegate Hurdle. Back on the track the following season, Dawn Run took the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton in December and then the Irish Champion Hurdle.

In March 1984 Dawn Run returned to Prestbury Park and was sent off the odds on favorite for the Champion Hurdle – she duly obliged, although the winning margin over Cima was closer than punters expected. An extraordinary hat-trick was completed the following month as Dawn Run collected the French Champion Hurdle at Autueil.

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The 1984/5 season was ravaged by injury, as Dawn Run’s switch to the bigger obstacles only saw one run at Navan. The following season she was aimed at the Gold Cup, but unfortunately her preparation was far from ideal, as she unseated her jockey on her last prep run.

The 1986 running of the Gold Cup turned out to be a thrilling race. Dawn Run was by now a huge public favourite and after being headed two out, she dug deep to catch Wayward Lad on the run in. The celebrations among the Irish contingent were immense, as their heroine had completed a unique feat being the only horse to ever win a Champion Hurdle and a Gold Cup.

Dawn Run next tackled the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown and fell at the first fence. At the Punchestown Festival she made amends by showing her speed in defeating Buck House, the Champion chaser, over two miles. But tragedy followed.

Over the Channel in France, Dawn Run finished second in her prep race for the French Champion Hurdle, and in June lined up for her last race of the season. It proved to be one race too many, and she fell at the fifth from home. She broke her neck in a horrific fall and was killed.

Dawn Run was one of the bravest mares ever to grace a racecourse and her story will be remembered long after her tragic end.