New Hoof of Fame award is launched

Press Eye - Belfast Northern - Ireland 1st November 2013''Northern Ireland Festival of Racing at Down Royal Racecourse - Day 1''Race 4 (2:35) WKD Hurdle''Tony McCoy with riding Jezki wins the 4th race.''Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast Northern - Ireland 1st November 2013''Northern Ireland Festival of Racing at Down Royal Racecourse - Day 1''Race 4 (2:35) WKD Hurdle''Tony McCoy with riding Jezki wins the 4th race.''Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Down Royal will launch a new Hoof Of Fame Award later this month, writes RON McKNIGHT.

The trio of nominations are Dawn Run, Monksfield and Jezki – all winners of the WKD Hurdle formerly the Soudavar Memorial Trial Hurdle.

The winner will be decided by a public vote and full details will be available on the racecourse website www.downroyal.com. The winner will be announced at the Down Royal Festival later this month.

DAWN RUN: The late legendary trainer, Paddy Mullins described Dawn Run: “By far the best National Hunt horse I have ever trained.”

The bay mare foaled in 1978, won 18 races from 28 starts and is the only horse to complete the Cheltenham Festival double – winning the Champion Hurdle in 1984 and the Gold Cup in 1986.

Dawn Run won the Soudavar Memorial Trial Hurdle {known now as the WKD Hurdle} at Down Royal in 1983 – a race won multiple times by the trainer including twice with the mighty mare Grabel while Dawn Run also won the Champion Novice, Christmas Hurdle and the Sun Alliance Hurdle the same season. The following year, the mare completed an unprecedented four-timer winning the Irish Champion Hurdle, Champion Hurdle, Aintree Hurdle and the French Champion Hurdle {Prix La Barka}.

The mare defeated Champion Chase winner, Buck House in a famous Punchestown match however 1986 ended in tragedy when the mare broke her neck when attempting a repeat victory in the French Champion Hurdle.

Jonjo O’Neill and Tony Mullins were the two jockeys to partner Dawn Run to her victories with the former recording the historic double. The Mullins dynasty continues today with Willie, champion trainer and Paddy’s grandson, Patrick, Champion Amateur rider.

MONKSFIELD: The dual Champion Hurdler trained by Dessie McDonagh was described as a “streetfighter”, such was the little horse’s will to win.

Monksfield ruled supreme in a golden era of champion hurdlers beating other equine legends such as Sea Pigeon and Night Nurse and became “The People’s Champion” befitting his rags to riches story having been bought for only 740gns by his trainer and stunning connections when winning on his debut as a 2 year old at 25/1 in 1974.

Monksfield launched himself on the premier hurdling arena when finishing runner-up in the 1976 running of the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival prior to his twin victories in the hurdling crown while also winning the Templegate Hurdle three times along with the Welsh Champion Hurdle and the Irish Benson and Hedges Hurdle.

The hat-trick of Champion Hurdle wins was denied in 1980 by his old rival Sea Pigeon who also completed the double the following year, when “Monkey” had to settle for second as he did on his first attempt in the Champion Hurdle in 1977. Tommy Kinane partnered Monksfield to his first victory while the late great Dessie Hughes was aboard in 1979.

Monksfield won the Soudavar Trial Hurdle at Down Royal in 1978 and retired to Anngrove Stud – the winner of five races on the flat and fourteen times over hurdles.

JEZKI: Trained by Jessica Harrington, won the 2014 Champion Hurdle prior to filling fourth in this year’s renewal. The seven year old son of St Leger winner – Milan who also finished runner-up in the Breeders Cup Turf in 2001 is owned by Ireland’s Leading Jumps owner, JP Mc Manus who holds the current record as owning the most winners of the Champion Hurdle – five wins - ISTABRAQ 1998/99/200, BINOCULAR 2010 and Jezki.

The Harrington trained horse won the 2013 renewal of the Grade 2 WKD at Down Royal with AP McCoy travelling to the track to assess the potential champion.

The Friday Festival feature proved a quality contest with runner-up, Caid Du Berlais and the third placed, Flaxen Flare – the latter owned by the race sponsor having previously fought out the finish of the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March of that year with the locally owned runner prevailing.

Barry Geraghty was aboard Jezki when winning the Champion Hurdle with AP electing to partner My Tent Or Yours – the pair owned by JP were separated by only a neck after a thrilling finish to the championship. The quality of the victory highlighted by 2013 Champion – The New One finishing third and dual Champion, Hurricane Fly in fourth.

Jezki has claimed five Grade 1 victories since success at Down Royal and collected almost one million in prize money for connections.

The McManus star having filled fourth to Faugheen in an attempt to retain his hurdling crown has been switched to the staying division and concluded last season’s campaign by winning the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Series at the Punchestown Festival in April to follow up victory in the Aintree Hurdle.

Unfortunately, Jessica Harrington last week announced that her stable star will miss this season following sustaining a leg injury.