Dawalan -- Champion Steeplechaser
Dawalan, age five in 2015, is the youngest gelding to be named champion steeplechaser since Flat Top in 1998. Like that horse, who also won the steeplechase crown at age nine in 2002, Dawalan might have many more successful campaigns and titles in front of him.
Bred in France by the Aga Khan, the gray son of Azamour arrived in the world with seemingly high expectations. His dam, the Miswaki mare Daltawa, had already reared 1999 champion turf male Daylami, who won the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) and was a highweight in England and France, and European Horse of the Year and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) hero Dalakhani.
Dawalan ultimately made little effect on the flat, placing twice in four starts at three. He proved an effective, if modest, hurdler in 2014, winning two of eight starts.
Dawalan won a handicap at Musselburgh in February to kick off his 2015 campaign, but was well beaten in stakes outings at the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National meeting at Aintree. In search of easier company, he was subsequently imported to the U.S. by owner Irv Naylor.
Joining the Cyril Murphy barn, Dawalan proved right away he belonged among this country's elite jumpers with a third-place finish to Bob Le Beau, who would prove to be his main rival for Eclipse Award honors, in the Lonesome Glory (G1) at Belmont Pak on September 24.
Fearing the possibility of soft ground, Bob Le Beau, skipped the Grand National (G1) at Far Hills, New Jersey, on October 17. In the event the course came up firm, and Dawalan took full advantage winning by a length in the season's most lucrative hurdle.
The rematch between Dawalan and Bob Le Beau took place in the season-ending Colonial Cup (G1) at Camden, South Carolina, on November 21, and it was a tour de force for Dawalan. Ridden by Ross Geraghty, Dawalan stormed home a 5 1/4-length winner, with Bob Le Beau nearly nine lengths adrift in fifth.
Dawalan completed 2015 with a mark of 6-3-0-1, $274,577. His career totals are 20-6-5-1, $359,331.
This is the second Eclipse Award-winning steeplechaser for Naylor, who campaigned 2011 champion Black Jack Blues in 2011. This is the first U.S. champion trained by Murphy.
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