Irish National hero Freewheelin Dylan heading to Punchestown

Irish Grand National winner Freewheelin Dylan is on course for the Punchestown Festival.

Dermot McLoughlin’s nine-year-old caused a 150-1 shock in the BoyleSports-sponsored showpiece at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.

McLoughlin already has his sights fixed on Aintree next April – but for this campaign he will sign off closer to home.

“It gave everyone in the yard a great lift. It’s a race I always wanted to have runners in with my father having won it, and he must have been looking down on me,” said McLoughlin, whose stable star was given a brilliant front-running ride by Ricky Doyle.

“I think we’ll have a look at the Pat Taaffe in Punchestown. He’s had a good break and we’re only starting him back this week.

“He’s small and a very easy horse to train. He doesn’t take much work.

“He’s going to be aimed at the English National next season, but he’ll need to go up a few pounds to get in. He went up 8lb for winning at Fairyhouse.”

Aintree the dream next year for Freewheelin Dylan

Dermot McLoughlin has his eyes on Aintree next year after Freewheelin Dylan’s shock 150-1 victory in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

The County Meath trainer, whose stables at Bodeen are just thee miles from the racecourse, will work back from the 2022 Randox Grand National with the nine-year-old.

It will not be the first time McLoughlin has targeted the Aintree spectacular, as he saddled Vics Canvas to finish third behind Rule The World at 100-1 in 2016.

Freewheelin Dylan was the joint complete outsider in the 28-runner field – but belied his enormous odds when making most of the running under Ricky Doyle to beat Run Wild Fred by a length and a quarter.

Not only did McLoughlin’s biggest training success came at his local track, but it was in a race his father, Liam, won as a jockey in 1962.

“It was fairytale stuff, it’s great,” he said.

Yet it was work as normal on Tuesday.

“We were back at work today so we’ve come back down to earth pretty quick,” he went on.

Ricky Doyle celebrates with Freewheelin Dylan
Ricky Doyle celebrates with Freewheelin Dylan (Niall Carson/PA)

“The horse is grand, not a bother on him.

“We’ll be over for the Grand National next year and we’ll work back from there.

“We might run again this season, maybe at Punchestown. He picked up €216,000 yesterday so he doesn’t have to go too far. We’ll see how he is.”

Freewheelin Dylan storms to Irish National glory at 150-1

Freewheelin Dylan caused a seismic shock with a 150-1 victory in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Dermot McLoughlin’s charge was widely unconsidered for the €400,000 showpiece on what was his first appearance since finishing last of eight runners at Punchestown in October.

However, ridden brilliantly by Ricky Doyle, the nine-year-old was in front after jumping the first fence and was never headed.

Thyestes Chaser runner-up Run Wild Fred looked a big danger rounding the home turn, but could never quite get on terms with Freewheelin Dylan, who galloped all the way to the line for a one-and-a-quarter-length win.

Run Wild Fred was a clear second, with Enjoy D’allen third and 9-2 favourite Latest Exhibition a creditable fourth under the welter burden of 11st 10lb.

McLoughlin said: “It’s great – it went to plan. I said to Ricky ‘he likes to bowl along in front and jumping is his forte, so use him up’.

“I was a bit concerned about not getting a run into him. I said turning into the straight that we’d better start shouting, because I knew he’d stay going.”

Dermot McLoughlin (right) with Freewheelin Dylan at Fairyhouse
Dermot McLoughlin (right) with Freewheelin Dylan at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

He added: “It’s a race I always wanted to have runners in, let alone try to win it. My father (Liam McLoughlin) rode the winner in 1962 (Kerforo), so I was always trying to follow.

“We’re based three miles down the road and we’ll keep progressing the best we can.

“I was 47 the other day. We have good help and good staff and we have some nice horses.

“Coming here I thought we had a good chance and thankfully it’s worked out.”

Jockey Ricky Doyle after his Irish Grand National win
Jockey Ricky Doyle after his Irish Grand National win (Niall Carson/PA)

Doyle told ITV Racing: “I could not believe it – I thought everything was too good to be true! His jumping is just out of this world, but how well he travelled and the rhythm he was in (was unbelievable).

“Turning in I could feel horses on me and I could feel him picking up. I was trying to do the maths in my head and was thinking ‘did I jump the last the first time’? I was in a dream the whole way.

“He’s a proper summer ground horse. I won a Midlands National on him in the same way. I was just so happy with everything that I couldn’t believe it.

“This means everything to me. I love this sport and I love horses – I couldn’t care if there was nothing to the winner.

“I’m over the moon.”