Irv Naylor’s Dawalan, winner of the Grand National (Gr. 1) and Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), has been voted the Eclipse Award as 2015’s champion steeplechase horse. The award was presented Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Accepting the award was Dawalan’s trainer, Cyril Murphy.
The gray or roan gelding by Azamour, a half brother to champions Daylami and Dalakhani, was bred by the Aga Khan and initially raced by him. Dawalan was sold and raced over fences with trainer Nicky Henderson before leading owner Naylor purchased him at the conclusion of the 2014-15 National Hunt season.
In his first U.S. start, Dawalan finished third to The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau in $150,000 Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). He subsequently won the $300,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 17 by 1 1/2 lengths.
The $100,000 Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 21 was a rematch with Bob Le Beau, who had skipped the Grand National. Under regular jockey Ross Geraghty, Dawalan pulled clear to a 5 1/4-length victory over his stablemate Rawnaq.
From his three U.S. starts, Dawalan earned $255,000 and received the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner.
Bob Le Beau, who also won the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), and Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, winner of the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) also were finalists in the Eclipse voting by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, and Daily Racing Form. Dawalan was the overwhelming winner with 165 votes to 45 for Bob Le Beau, and Demonstrative receiving two votes. Gary Barber’s African Oil, the novice champion, received two votes, and Michael Wharton’s timber champion Grinding Speed was the top choice on one ballot.