Freewheelin Dylan created history on Monday at Fairyhouse when winning the Irish Grand National at 150-1, the longest-priced winner ever of the famous race first run in 1870.
Trained by Dermot McLoughlin and ridden by Ricky Doyle, the complete outsider led all the way to complete one of the biggest shocks in recent racing history.
Doyle was in disbelief afterwards, stating: “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.”
McLoughlin, who trains locally, is steeped in Irish National folklore, his father Liam having won the National on Kerforo in 1962. McLoughlin senior was the first jockey to win on the legendary Arkle, widely regarded as the greatest horse in jump racing history.
The trainer 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.
“When he came in off grass last year, we said in September-time we’d aim for this. It was a race I always wanted to have runners in, let alone try to win it. My father rode the winner, so I was always trying to follow.”
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.
Meanwhile, Paul Townend will see a doctor later this week to determine the extent of a foot injury picked up at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Townend – who is due to partner second-favourite Burrows Saint in the Grand National at Aintree next Saturday – was riding Egality Mans for Willie Mullins in the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle when departing at the third-last, bringing down stablemate Power Of Pause ridden by Bryan Cooper, who escaped injury.
He was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital for precautionary X-rays and missed his mounts on Irish National day. Giving an update on Monday after Stormy Ireland won the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle, in which Townend was replaced by Danny Mullins.
Townend started the week 10 winners clear (95-85) of Rachael Blackmore in defence of his Irish jump jockeys’ title, with the championship set to conclude with the final day of the Punchestown Festival on 1 May.