Silviniaco Conti, Coral Hurdle
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Coral Hurdle: Dawn Run and Faugheen among our eight greatest winners

| 19.11.2020

Our favourite winners since 1978

Coral are celebrating 15 years of sponsoring the Coral Hurdle by running through the greatest winners of the race since it’s inception as the Ascot Hurdle in 1978.

From Dawn Run to Faugheen and Morley Street to Silviniaco Conti, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane.

If The Cap Fits (2018, 2019)

Winning the Coral Hurdle is hard enough to do once. So extra praise must be given to the seven horses who have managed to do it twice. It’s an exclusive list which includes Connaught Ranger, Gaye Brief, Sabin Du Loir, Morley Street, Baracouda, Hardy Eustace and a certain If The Cap Fits.

Harry Fry’s inmate first won the race in 2018 under a strong ride from Noel Fehily, before Sean Bowen piloted the then-seven-year-old to victory at odds of 3/1 in 2019. The Milan gelding, who also won the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree in 2019, has been sent chasing in 2020.

Faugheen (2014)         

Faugheen the machine. How could we not include the people’s horse? Willie Mullins’s mare had already won the Ballymore and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle by the time she pitched up in the Coral Hurdle in 2014.

She was sent off a very warm 1/4 favourite for the race, and with good reason. The then-six-year-old blew off the cobwebs in some style by making all to win by 3l¾. It would prove to be the first win in an unbeaten season for Faugheen which included victories in the Christmas Hurdle, Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

Faugheen odds, Dublin Racing Festival odds

An injury in 2016 somewhat curtailed her prominence over sticks, but she’s found a new lease of life since going chasing at the grand old age of 11. The Closutton mare won two Grade 1s in 2019-20, including the Flogas Novice Chase, before finding only Samcro and Melon too good in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival.

Oscar Whisky (2012)

Oscar Whisky was already a two-time Aintree Hurdle winner by the time he won the Coral Hurdle back in 2012. Nicky Henderson’s charge was far from fluent on his seasonal reappearance, but on testing ground, he stretched clear from two out to win by 6l and justify odds of 8/13. Victory made amends for his final hurdle final 12 months prior when upside eventual winner Overturn for Donald McCain.

He would go on to win the Relkeel Hurdle, Dipper Novices’ Chase and the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase before his career was brought to a premature end in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in 2014. The Oscar gelding will go down in history as one of the most visually impressive Coral Hurdle winners.

Silviniaco Conti (2010)

Silviniaco Conti will better remembered as a chaser, but he won a couple of serious prizes over hurdles too. His victories over smaller obstacles include the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow and the Coral Hurdle just under a month later in 2010.

Paul Nicholls’s star was sent off as the third-favourite at Ascot behind Zaynar and Karabak but produced a fluent jumping performance to win by 6l. He skipped over his hurdles that day, so it came as no surprise to anyone when he was sent chasing the following season.

And it was over fences where he truly came into his own, winning a whole host of Grade 1s, including the 2013 and 2014 King George plus the 2012 and 2014 renewals of the Betfair Chase. He’s  a horse who’ll always have a place in the hearts of true racing fans.

Hardy Eustace (2006, 2007)

Hardy Eustace opened his Coral Hurdle account in style in 2006. The 11/8 favourite was given a lovely stalking ride by jockey Conor O’Dwyer before surging clear at the finish to win by 11l. The pair then followed up 12 months later with a much grittier success under a challenge from Afsoun to win by ½l.

In winning that day he became just the sixth two-time winner of the race. Hardy Eustace also had a glittering career beyond Ascot, which included back-to-back Champion Hurdle victories in 2004 and 2005.

Morley Street (1990, 1991)

Morley Street probably has a more coloured history than any other Coral Hurdle winner. Not only did he claim the spoils twice at Ascot, he also won a Champion Hurdle, four Aintree Hurdles and most interestingly, two Breeders’ Cup Steeplechases, otherwise known as the American Grand National.

It’s his victories at Ascot we’re most concerned about, though, and luckily for us he has two of them to his name. The first came in 1990 when Jimmy Frost rode the 4/5 favourite to a comprehensive 3l win over previous two-time winner Sabin Du Loir. The second came 12 months later, with Frost again in the saddle as Morley Street dug deep to fend off a challenge from King’s Curate and win by ½l.

Sabin Du Loir (1987, 1988)

Sabin Du Loir was a stout performer who won two Coral Hurdles under the jockeyship of the legendary Peter Scudamore. He made all to win the race by 12l from Sprowston Boy in 1987 before repeating the trick in 1988 ahead of previous two-time winner Gaye Brief.

Although not at the same level as some of the other Coral Hurdle winners in this list, he still won his fair share of decent pots for trainer Martin Pipe, including a pair of Haldon Gold Cups at Exeter.

Dawn Run (1983)

The legendary Dawn Run was only the sixth winner of the Coral Hurdle back in 1983, and boy was she made to work hard for it. The mare beat Amarach by a short-head under Jonjo O’Neill having been 1l down on her rival going over the final hurdle.

That success was just a pre-cursor to what was to follow for Dawn Run, who became the most successful mare in National Hunt history from 1983-1986. She remains the only horse to have completed the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup double, while the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle is now named after her at the Festival.

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Nick Murphy