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Dawn Run

Dawn Run
Sire Deep Run
Dam Twilight Slave
Grandsire Pampered King
Damsire Artic Slave
Gender Mare
Foaled 1978
Country Ireland
Color Bay
Breeder John Riordan
Owner Charmian Hill
Trainer Paddy Mullins
Record 35: 21-
Dawn Run is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Twilight Slave by Deep Run. She was born around 1978 in Ireland, and was bred by John Riordan.
Major wins
Ascot Hurdle (1983)
Christmas Hurdle (1983)
Irish Champion Hurdle (1984)
Champion Hurdle (1984)
Aintree Hurdle (1984)
French Champion Hurdle (1984)
John Durkan Memorial Chase (1985)
Cheltenham Gold Cup (1986)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

Dawn Run (1978–1986) was a Thoroughbred racehorse (Deep Run - Twilight Slave) who was the most successful racemare in the history of National Hunt racing. She won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham racing festival in 1984 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup over fences at the festival in 1986. Dawn Run was the only racehorse to have completed the Champion Hurdle - Gold Cup double. She was one of only two mares who have managed to win the Champion Hurdle, and of only four who have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. She was also the only horse ever to complete the English, Irish and French Champion Hurdle treble.


A daughter of the highly successful National Hunt sire Deep Run, Dawn Run was bought for 5,800 guineas and trained by Paddy Mullins in Ireland. She started her career at the age of four, running in flat races at provincial courses. Remarkably, she was ridden in her first three races by her 62 year old owner Charmian Hill. After completing a hat-trick of wins on the flat she set out on her hurdling career and progressed through the ranks to become champion novice hurdler in Britain and Ireland in her first season, 1982-83. In her second season she won 8 of her 9 races including the English Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown Racecourse, both over two miles, and the French Champion Hurdle (Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil) at Auteuil over three miles, becoming the first horse to complete the treble. Her other big victories that season included the Christmas Hurdle (2 miles) at Kempton, In which she beat the reigning Champion Hurdler Gaye Brief by a neck after a thrilling duel up the home stretch, the Sandemans Hurdle at Aintree Racecourse (2.5 miles), which she won in a canter by fifteen lengths, and the Prix La Barka at Auteuil.

She turned to steeplechasing the following season, but was injured after winning her first race and was out of action for the rest of the season. She made a successful return the following December by winning the Durkan Brothers Chase at Punchestown by 8 lengths. She followed up by beating the subsequent two mile champion chaser Buck House over two and a half miles at Punchestown later the same month despite making a bad mistake at the last fence. She was a hot favourite to win that season's Cheltenham Gold Cup, the greatest steeplechase in Europe, despite the fact that no horse had ever completed the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup double, that she was still virtually a novice over fences, and the three and a quarter mile trip of the Gold Cup over the stiff Cheltenham course was further than she had ever run before. In January 1986 she was given a prep race at Cheltenham Racecourse which she was expected to win easily. Her usual jockey, Tony Mullins, the son of the trainer, was on board. As usual, she set out to make all the running but her inexperience showed as she made a mistake on the back straight and unshipped her jockey. The commentator Julian Wilson had just spent about 30 seconds effusively praising her performance, i.e. 'cruising, coasting in the lead.', 'it's two years since she's been beaten'. Mullins got back up on her and finished the course, last of the four runners. It was an unsatisfactory preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but, despite her inexperience, it was decided to let her take her chance.

Controversially, Mullins was replaced for the Gold Cup by the top jockey of the time, Jonjo O'Neill. On the day Dawn Run started hot favourite. O'Neill set her out in front to make the running as usual, but she was harried throughout the first circuit by Run and Skip. Unsettled by the attention, Dawn Run made a bad mistake at the water jump and lost two lengths and her momentum. She won back the lead at the next fence but made another bad mistake at the last ditch and was clearly under pressure as the field made their way down hill to the third last. At this stage there were only four horses in contention, Dawn Run, Run and Skip, the previous year's Gold Cup winner Forgive ´n Forget, and the brilliant Wayward Lad who had won the King George VI Chase three times. As she led the field into the straight with just two fences and the uphill finish ahead of them a huge cheer went up from the crowd, but it looked like destiny was about to disappoint them as both Wayward Lad and Forgive ´n Forget swept past the mare. It was now all or nothing for O'Neill as he drove her up to the second last and got such a response that she landed in front. It appeared to be a futile effort, however, as Wayward Lad regained the lead coming to the last fence, pressed by Forgive ´n Forget with Dawn Run struggling in third. About a hundred yards out Wayward Lad began to hang to the left as his stamina started to give out. O'Neill switched Dawn Run to the outside and they raced past Forgive ´n Forget and began to cut into Wayward Lad's lead. Yards from the finish they caught him and passed the post three quarters of a length ahead. They had won in record time. The subsequent celebrations were unlike anything seen at Cheltenham before as hats where thrown in the air and the huge crowd invaded the winners' enclosure to join in the celebrations.

In her next race at Aintree she failed to get past the first fence, but followed up by again beating Buck House in a specially arranged match at the Punchestown festival [1]. The decision was then made by her owner to send her back to France to try and repeat her 1984 win in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle). French jockey Michel Chirol was on board Dawn Run. Sadly, in that race she fell at a hurdle on the back straight, the fifth last, and never got up, having broken her neck in the fall.[1] It was a measure of the great affection felt for her that her death was reported on the front page of the following day's Irish Times, and her statue now adorns the parade ring at Cheltenham, opposite the statue of the greatest steeplechaser of all time, Arkle.

Pedigree for Dawn Run
1978 Bay filly

Pedigree of Dawn Run
Deep Run
ch. 1966
Pampered King
b. 1954
Prince Chevalier
b. 1943
Prince Rose
b. 1928
b. 1933
Netherton Maid
b. 1944
br. 1935
b. 1939
Trial By Fire
ch. 1958
Court Martial
ch. 1942
Fair Trial
ch. 1932
b. 1944
b. 1933
French Kin
b. 1938
Twilight Slave
b. 1962
Arctic Slave
b. 1950
Arctic Star
br. 1942
br. 1935
b. 1929
Roman Galley
br. 1931
Man O' War
ch. 1917
gr. 1923
Early Light
ch. 1941
ch. 1934
Broken Dawn
Black And White



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