Owner Irv Naylor and trainer Cyril Murphy, who celebrated an Eclipse Award victory by Dawalan a year ago, had the good fortune to campaign the country’s leading steeplechaser in 2016 as well. Rawnaq proved an able replacement for Dawalan, who was sidelined all season.
A gelded son of Azamour, Rawnaq had flashed promise upon his importation in the fall of 2015, placing behind Dawalan in the Grand National (G1) and Colonial Cup (G1). With his stablemate out of action, Rawnaq came out firing in late April registering a 15-length victory in the Temple Gwathmey (G2) at Middleburg, Virginia. Three weeks later, in the Iroquois (G1) at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Rawnaq bravely held off Shaneshill by a neck after leading throughout in the three-mile hurdle, the longest of the American Grade 1s.
By winning the Iroquois, Rawnaq became eligible for a $500,000 bonus if he were to add the 2017 Ryanair World Hurdle in England on March 16. With that trip to Cheltenham a long-range goal, the connections gave Rawnaq a summer freshening and the Grade 1s jumps at Saratoga and Belmont Park were bypassed.
Rawnaq returned to action for the most lucrative of American steeplechases, the Grand National at Far Hills, New Jersey, and with legendary Irish hunt jockey Ruby Walsh substituting for an injured Jack Doyle, Rawnaq fended off Lonesome Glory (G1) hero Scorpiancer by three parts of a length after leading most of the way.
A heavy favorite to claim the steeplechase crown after the Iroquois and Grand National triumphs, Rawnaq’s candidacy was not hurt when the Irish-bred finished a distant second to Top Striker in the Colonial Cup at Camden, South Carolina, on November 19. Rawnaq ended 2016 with a season record of 4-3-1-0, $387,000, and a lifetime mark over the jumps and flat of 52-11-9-9, $609,955.
Bred by Jim Monaghan, Rawnaq was reared by Sharemata, by Doyoun. This female family is also responsible for 1986 Epsom Derby (G1) and Irish Derby (G1) winner Shahrastani.