Irv Naylor’s Rawnaq, who battled to victories in 2016’s two richest races, was honored Saturday with the Eclipse Award as the year’s outstanding steeplechase horse.
The award was presented at the Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Also receiving an Eclipse Award for the year’s outstanding photograph was Tod Marks, the National Steeplechase Association’s official photographer.
Rawnaq, an Irish-bred trained by Cyril Murphy, began the year with a dominant victory in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring. He then turned back formidable overseas competitors to win the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 14.
He returned to competition for the year’s richest race, the $350,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in October. Again facing competition from overseas invaders, Rawnaq dispatched an all-star field and won by a half-length. He concluded the year with as second in the season-ending $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).
His three wins from four starts produced earnings of $387,000. He previously received the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner.
It was the second Eclipse Award in a row for Naylor and Murphy. In 2015, owner Naylor’s Dawalan claimed the sport’s most coveted prize. Naylor also won the 2011 Eclipse Award with Black Jack Blues.
Diane Naylor, the owner’s wife, accepted the award with Murphy and his family at her side.