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Dawn Run Horse Racings Greatest Mare

Tony Mullins on board

Print of Dawn Run, the most successful mare in the history of National Hunt racing, she won both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup at Cheltenham, the only racehorse ever to complete this double

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Dawn Run

Wonderful portrait of arguably horse racings greatest mares Dawn Run in action partnered by Tony Mullins

See biography below

Dimensions 

300mm x 255mm or 12 inches x 10 inches

Mounting

Precision cut double mount

Backing

High quality backing card

Framing

Also available in attractive mahogany style frame

Dawn Run

The racehorse Dawn Run (Deep Run - Twilight Slave) 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, becoming the first racehorse ever to complete the double.

Dawn Run was arguably the greatest racemare in the history of National Hunt racing. A daughter of the highly successful National Hunt sire Deep Run, she 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 winning on her third start 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, both over two miles, and the French Champion Hurdle (Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil) at Auteuil over three miles, becoming the first horse ever 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 Gay Brief by a neck after a thrilling duel up the home stretch, the Sandemans Hurdle at Aintree (2.5 miles), which she won in a canter by fifteen lengths, and the Prix La Barka in 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 Leopardstown 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 that 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 February of 1986 she was given a prep race at Cheltenham 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 Cheltenham 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, two-times Gold Cup winner Forgive ´n Forget, and the brilliant Wayward Lad who had won the the King George Chase three times, but whose stamina was suspect over the gruelling three and a quarter mile trip of the Gold Cup. 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. A mistake at the last appeared to have put paid to Forgive ´n Forget's chances and Wayward Lad began the long uphill run to the line. About a hundred yards out he 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 past 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 passed the first fence, but followed up by again beating Buck House in a specially arranged match at the Punchestown festival. The decision was then made by her owner to send her back to France to try and repeat her 1984 win in the French Champion Hurdle. Sadly, in that race she fell at a hurdle on the back straight and never got up again. It subsequently transpired that she had suffered a fatal heart attack. It was a measure of the great affection that was 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