Await The Dawn

Await The Dawn

Await The Dawn ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Hardwicke Stakes during Day Five of the 2011 Royal Ascot Meeting.

There are moments in the horse game you never forget. One of those was the running of Ireland’s Kilternan Stakes (Gr.3) two years ago.

My curiosity was pricked by the sight of a relatively unknown youngster demolishing a Group field by nine lengths, not so much for the hope that one day he might reside at Summerhill, but because it appeared to herald the dawn of a new international star. I followed the winner when he turned up next as the odds-on chalk in the Huxley Stakes (Gr.3) at the Chester festival, and again, he annihilated his foes. There was obviously something extraordinary about this horse, and unusually for me, I took the afternoon off when he next appeared at Royal Ascot for the Hardwicke Stakes (Gr.2) to watch the race. Odds-on was now the norm, and he destroyed his field for the fourth successive time, easing down to win by three. It was clear Await The Dawn was something else.

It was Frankel’s year no doubt; he was already the best miler in the world (if not the best horse we’d ever seen), but I was beginning to wonder whether the horse I’d been tracking, was not the best middle distance horse in Europe. That’s a big statement, but it’s apparent that many Europeans thought so, too. They hammered him down to odds-on again for his Group One debut in the Juddmonte International at York, and according to Timeform, “Await The Dawn was clearly ready for Group One company now.”

In the event, stricken by travel-sickness, he finished a lacklustre third. Timeform reported: Await The Dawn finished a disappointing third, clearly not himself. It came as no surprise when his stable reported that he was a very sick horse on his way home, his illness apparently life-threatening. A long break will help Await The Dawn to recapture his best form in 2012, when – if he does so – he will surely win a Group One”. Strong words from Europe’s most respected rating agency.

It is a sad statement about our currency that people like us cannot afford the world’s best racehorses for our stallion prospects, and that we have to secretly hope that horses of Await The Dawn’s ilk would keep their class under a bushel for the remainder of their careers, lest they should remain beyond our reach. So I have to confess, given his history, I was beginning to believe that one day, the son of Giant’s Causeway might darken the doors to our stallion barn.

In that context, it was startling, knowing he’d turned up in Dubai this year, to hear Mike de Kock say he thought the horse could win the World Cup. As it happened, fate intervened once more, this time through a career-ending injury. Summerhill has been associated with some great stallions over the years, but I can’t remember being more enthusiastic about any of them than I am about this fellow. Attached is a fact file on the horse. He is the whole package: a big, masculine individual of the highest racing class (Timeform 126+), bred from the best blood of two of the world’s most celebrated stud farms. All he needs is a normal dose of luck to make a great stallion.

There is another angle, though. Await The Dawn’s arrival marks the first time in the nation’s history, that the previously disadvantaged members of a farm’s staff, have participated meaningfully in the acquisition of a stallion. This has been made possible through the intervention of Ithala Bank, who’ve assisted Summerhill’s longer serving employees in becoming major players in the industry.

The Horse

Bred in a foal-sharing joint-venture between two of the world’s greatest stud farms, Coolmore in Ireland and Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farm. The arrangement provided for each of these farms to alternate in having the pick of the foals, and Await The Dawn was first choice in 2007 for Coolmore. That probably tells us everything we want to know about him as an individual, because Coolmore have some of racing’s best judges at their disposal.

The Individual

Await The Dawn is a big, strong, typical Giant’s Causeway-type of great depth and good substance, and in common with the Storm Cat male-line, he is a fine mover and a fluid walker (“lengthy, good-bodied”: Timeform). The Storm Cats as a tribe, can possess tricky temperaments, offset knees and breathing issues, yet none of this stopped him from becoming the world’s most expensive stallion at US$500,000 a service. Giant’s Causeway himself displayed a bit of temperament as well as the offset knees, but became the world’s highest-rated racehorse of his year, and has since aspired to three Sires’ Championships in the United States (2009, 2011, 2012), besides being Champion 2yo sire in 2005, and notably, Champion European Freshman Sire in 2004.

Await The Dawn is very mildly offset in his one knee, and splays a touch at the fetlock, though no more than Brave Tin Soldier, who is throwing clean, good-legged horses here, as evidenced by his heading the Freshman Sires’ averages at the NYS. Whilst he is reported to be “a bit of a man”, Await The Dawn showed no signs of temperament at the races; he was of clean wind.

The Pedigree

The Storm Cat male-line has already proven remarkably successful in South Africa, its representatives including Var, Tiger Ridge, Black Minnaloushe and Mogok and Tiger Dance, from just that many representatives. There’s hardly been a failure to speak of. Besides these horses, Giant’s Causeway himself is already proving to be one of the world’s most sought after sires-of-sires, and from just a handful of representatives, Sharmadal already has ten Group 1 winners, while Footstepsinthesand and First Samurai both have Group 1 winners among a stream of top horses as well. Await The Dawn will be Giant’s Causeway’s first son to enter local stallion ranks.

His female-line (see attached) speaks for itself. Juddmonte Farm stands alone as the world’s pre-eminent private breeder of the current era, and Await The Dawn descends from the best of them. There are already three quality sires in his immediate ancestry, Warning, Commander In Chief and Deploy (broodmare sire of Dubawi), and it’s worth recording that First Samurai (like Await The Dawn) is out of a Dixieland Band mare.

In brief, Await The Dawn represents the physical type and the perfect pedigree to match the needs of the bulk of the South African broodmare population.

The Racehorse

At Two: Won his first start by four lengths as the 7/4 favourite.

At Three: Won his seasonal debut by lengths as the 8/15 favourite. Won his next four races in a row, commencing with the Kilternan Stakes (Gr.3) over the J&B Met trip, destroying his field by a growing nine lengths. Clearly suffered some problems, hence a lay-off for the balance of the season.

At Four: Galloped away with the Huxley Stakes (Gr.3) at Chester by lengths at odds of 8/11,  (“landed the odds in good style”: Timeform), stamping himself as a serious Royal Ascot candidate.

Won the Hardwicke Stakes (Gr.2) at Royal Ascot by three lengths. “Beginning a strong run approaching the home turn, Await The Dawn forged ahead in the penultimate furlong and was just kept up to his work to win by three lengths. Await The Dawn was clearly more than ready for Group 1 company now, and the Juddmonte International at York looked to provide him with an excellent opportunity to make a successful debut at the top level”. (Timeform)

Third Juddmonte International (Gr.1) at York (Purse: £700,000). “In the event, Await The Dawn finished a disappointing third, clearly not himself. It came as no surprise when his stable reported that Await The Dawn was a very sick horse on his way home, his illness apparently life-threatening”.

A long break will help Await The Dawn to recapture his best form in 2012, when – if he does so – he will surely win a Group 1”. (Timeform)

Timeform-rated 126+, placing him squarely in the top ½% of racehorses in the world. This horse so excited me with his run in the Kilternan Stakes that I took the afternoon off to watch his next three races. It wasn’t only his form that got my juices going, it was his presence and the way he moved, as well as his demolition of the opposition. Undoubtedly, 2011 was Frankel’s year, particularly at a mile, but in the middle-distance category, Await The Dawn looked capable of holding his own with the best anywhere. Clearly, the world’s best rating agency felt the same. The horse had the “X-factor”.

When I was told he was with Mike de Kock in Dubai, I enquired of the trainer what he thought of him: “He’s my World Cup horse!” was his response, and after winning a Handicap in convincing style in February, he labelled him a strong contender for one of the big prizes on the big night. In the event, he drew the outside in the $5million Sheema Classic (Gr.1) and despite a career-ending injury, still managed to run fifth. It goes without saying, he would not have been coming to Summerhill if he’d won it.

Summerhill has had a long and proud association with some terrific stallions over the years, Champion sires Northern Guest, Home Guard, Liloy, National Emblem, and Fard (the latter two in the juvenile category) among them, while Kahal, Rambo Dancer and Muhtafal have been Championship contenders in their own right. I have to confess though, that whilst new stallions evoke a spirited response in us, it’s some time since we felt this way about a sire prospect.

Await The Dawn Race Record

DATE:  22 JULY 2009
RACE: MAIDEN
TRACK:  NAAS
DISTANCE:  1600M
SURFACE:  TURF (SOFT)
AGE:  2 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 4 LENGTHS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND BANYAN TREE, 3RD TODD’S FORGE

DATE:  22 AUGUST 2010
RACE: FERMOY RACE
TRACK:  CORK
DISTANCE:  1800M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD TO FIRM)
AGE:  3 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 1 ¼  LENGTHS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND ZERASHAN,  3RD NEW MAGIC

DATE:  4 SEPTEMBER 2010
RACE: KILTERNAN STAKES (GROUP 3)
TRACK:  LEOPARDSTOWN
DISTANCE:  1800M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD)
AGE:  3 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 9 LENGTHS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND SOUTH EASTER,  3RD NANTON

.

DATE:  5 MAY 2011
RACE: HUXLEY STAKES (GROUP 3)
TRACK:  CHESTER
DISTANCE:  1900M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD TO FIRM)
AGE:   4 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 4 ½  LENGTHS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND DISTANT MEMORIES,  3RD FORTE DEI MARMI

DATE:  18 JUNE  2011
RACE: HARDWICKE STAKES (GROUP 2)
TRACK:  ASCOT
DISTANCE:  2400M
SURFACE:  TURF (SOFT)
AGE:   4 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 3 LENGTHS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND HARRIS TWEED,  3RD DRUNKEN SAILOR 5TH CAMPANOLOGIST (TRIPLE GR.1 WINNER) 7TH  KING’S GAMBIT (GR.1 WINNER)

.

DATE:  17 AUGUST 2011
RACE: JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL STAKES (GROUP 1)
TRACK:  YORK
DISTANCE:  2400M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD TO SOFT)
AGE:   4 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  3RD
OTHER RUNNERS:  1ST TWICE OVER (MULTIPLE GR.1 WINNER, 2ND MIDDAY (CHAMPION FILLY)

.

DATE:  21 FEBRUARY 2013
RACE: AL NABOODAH COMMERCIAL GROUP TROPHY
TRACK:  MEYDAN
DISTANCE:  1800M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD)
AGE:   6 YEARSPLACE (LENGHTS):  1ST BY 2 ¾ LENGHTS
OTHER RUNNERS:  2ND SO BEAUTIFUL, 3RD SALON SOLDIER

.

DATE:  9 MARCH 2013
RACE:  DUBAI CITY OF GOLD (GROUP 2)
TRACK:  MEYDAN
DISTANCE:  2400M
SURFACE:  TURF (GOOD)
AGE:   6 YEARS
PLACE (LENGHTS):  2ND
OTHER RUNNERS:  1ST JAKKALBERRY, 3RD CAVALRYMAN

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