Irv Naylor’s Rawnaq, winner of two Grade 1 classics, was crowned Saturday evening as the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award winner.
Naylor, who smashed his own earnings record for an owner and fell just short of $1-million in purses, was honored as the year’s leading owner at a dinner and awards ceremony held at the Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Rawnaq, a Irish-bred nine-year-old who was imported last year, won $387,000 from three wins in four starts. The only blemish on his 2016 record was his second straight second-place finish in the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), held a few hours earlier at the Springdale course.
He began the year with a smashing victory in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) and then courageously fended off two Irish invaders to win the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), a victory that earned him a shot at the $500,000 Brown Advisory Cheltenham-Iroquois Challenge if he can win the Ryanair World Hurdle on March 16 at Cheltenham Race Course.
Rawnaq also faced overseas challenges in the $350,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, but he was easily up to the challenge and defeated Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer in the year’s richest steeplechase race.
Jack Fisher, who topped $1-million in earnings for the second straight year, was crowned the champion trainer by wins for the fourth straight year and was the earnings leaders for the third straight time.
Kieran Norris fended off a challenge from five-time champion Paddy Young to win his first jockey championship by wins. Sean McDermott was the leading jockey by purse earnings.