Cheltenham Gold Cup 1986

Owned by Charmain Hill and trained by Paddy Mullins, Dawn Run won the Champion Hurdle, at odds-on, under Jonjo O’Neill in 1984. However, after making a successful debut over fences at Navan the following November, Dawn Run was sidelined with injury for over a year. She reappeared in December, 1985, with easy victories at Punchestown and Leopardstown, and was subsequently sent to Cheltenham for a preparatory race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which she started odds-on.

However, having made the running, Dawn Run blundered and unseated her regular partner, Tony Mullins, at the fifth fence. Consequently, at the insistence of Charmain Hill, Tony Mullins was replaced by Jonjo O’Neill, once again, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Despite being woefully short of experience over the larger obstacles – she had, in fact, run in just four steeplechases – Dawn Run was sent off the heavily-backed favourite, at 15/8, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Jonjo O’Neill once again made the running, but was accompanied throughout the first circuit by Steve Smith-Eccles, aboard Run And Skip. Dawn Run incurred ‘four faults’ when dropping her hind legs in the second water jump and mistakes at the fifth-last and fourth-last fences further hindered her chances.

Nevertheless, Dawn Run rallied to lead turning for home, but after the second-last fence Wayward Lad and Forgive ‘N Forget swept by as if she were ‘standing still’, according to O’Neill. Only third, and apparently struggling, jumping the final fence, Dawn Run gained encouragement from Wayward Lad hanging left as he tired in the closing stages and, switched to the outside, picked up again in gutsy fashion, effectively outstaying her nearest rival to win by a length, with Forgive ‘N Forget a further 2½ lengths back in third place.