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Dylan on song with 150-1 Irish National shock



Free spirit: jockey Ricky Doyle and Freewheelin Dylan celebrate winning the Irish Grand National

Free spirit: jockey Ricky Doyle and Freewheelin Dylan celebrate winning the Irish Grand National


Free spirit: jockey Ricky Doyle and Freewheelin Dylan celebrate winning the Irish Grand National

Snow started to sprinkle around him as Ricky Doyle soaked in the most unlikely Irish Grand National success in its history and it was hard for the 26-year-old not to think that he had just been part of a fairytale.

But this was real, Doyle had just produced the biggest shock in Ireland's most lucrative jumps race as 150-1 shot Freewheelin Dylan lived up to his name when bowling along in front to make all and bravely score by a length and a quarter in the Fairyhouse showpiece.

This was "by far" the best day of Doyle's life in his first National mount as local trainer Dermot McLoughlin produced the nine-year-old, winner of last year's Midlands National at Kilbeggan, in peak condition to land the €400,000 prize on his first start in six months.

"I always dreamt of winning an Irish or English National. For that to come true, wow. I did five lots this morning and I won the National five times! To actually do it is brilliant," a shellshocked Doyle said.

"I started doubting myself. I walked the track. I knew I'd to jump the last twice. It was happening too easy. I was thinking 'I'm after messing up here, I've sent him on too soon'. When I started hearing the other lads roaring and shouting, I thought "Game on, here we go'. I could not believe it.

"I thought everything was too good to be true! I was just so happy with everything that I couldn't believe it, and this means everything to me. I love this sport and I love horses - I couldn't care if there was nothing (no prize money) for the winner. I'm absolutely over the moon."

Freewheelin Dylan is ridden out every day by his owner Sheila Mangan and his unheralded success is a career-defining moment moment for all involved as the winner held off Denise Foster's Run Wild Fred (9/1) in a thrilling finale.

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"Dermot O'Loughlin is as cool as a cucumber. I handed him the saddle and he said 'I'm not going to tell you anything. You know the horse'. Just riding for Dermot is very easy. I knew he was such a good jumper, I couldn't wait to go out there," Doyle added.

"I knew I was going to have so much fun. I wasn't one bit nervous. I was more excited than anything. After winging the fourth last I was thinking 'This is going to happen'. I gave him a flick after the last and after that I was gone home."


Trainer Dermot McLoughlin

Trainer Dermot McLoughlin

Trainer Dermot McLoughlin

For McLoughlin, victory was a dream come true as he trains just three miles from the Meath track in Bodeen as he completed a lifetime ambition to emulate his father Liam as an Irish National winner.

Liam was the first jockey to win on the mighty Arkle before landing the Irish National on Kerforo in 1962, and there was unbridled joy as his son etched his place in folklore as the 150th winner of the marquee event.

"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," the Ratoath handler said.

"It's a race I always wanted to have runners in, let alone try to win it. My father rode the winner in 1962, so I was always trying to follow. We're based three miles down the road and we'll keep progressing as 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."

Eight years after having a hand in Liberty Counsel's surprise triumph, Ciaran Murphy was left beaming with pride following a career-best from Enjoy D'allen (40-1) in third, with the seven-year-old sure to be a feature in staying chases for such time to come.

Another with a bright future is Latest Exhibition and, while the 9/2 favourite may not have got his head in front, Paul Nolan's charge ran yet another brave race in defeat back in fourth as a National day like no other belonged to Freewheelin Dylan.

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