Doyle Freewheels to sensational BoyleSports Irish National success at Fairyhouse


Ricky Doyle wins the grand event on 150-1 shot Freewheelin Dylan in one of the biggest surprises in history

Monday, April 05, 2021
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Freewheelin Dylan soars to Irish Grand National success under Ricky Doyle


Bob Dylan once wrote ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’, and that’s exactly what Rickie Doyle did to upset the odds to claim BoyleSports Irish Grand National success at Fairyhouse writes Adam Le Roux.

The 150-1 outsider Freewheelin Dylan was considered nothing more than an also-ran heading into Monday’s main event, with all eyes on Bryan Cooper on Latest Exhibition and Run Wild Fred under Jack Kennedy before the race kicked off. 

But the rest of the field were left ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ as the longer the race went on, with Doyle holding his nerve to steer the rank outsider to success on the highest stage. 

With just seven victories in a four-year career before the Easter Monday meet, very few knew much about the Dermot McLoughlin’s steed heading into the main event, but the 47-year-old was the coolest man in the house as his colt turned the final corner in front. 

“I was fairly relaxed about it to be honest, I was enjoying it up there because it was nice to see a horse jump fences like that, it was great,” McLoughlin said. 

“I said to the lads we better start cheering turning into the straight, because I knew he’d stay going. 

“I said to Ricky get him up front, and jumping is his forte so use him up, I was a bit concerned abut not getting the run but it went to plan.” 

The Irish Grand National is an event that the McLoughlin household has long since left a legacy on, with Dermot’s father Liam claiming success on Tom Dreaper-trained Kerforo back in 1962. 

And over half a century later it was his son watching on from the sidelines as Doyle kept the field at bay to produce the biggest upset in the showpiece event in living history - and McLoughlin was pleased to do his father proud with the win. 

“It was 59 years ago that he won it, and this was the race I always wanted to win because I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

In the day’s other action, Donagh Meyler got the first win of the day at Fairyhouse, as he marauded his way to the front of the pack to take the spoil in the Farmhouse Foods Novice Handicap Hurdle on top of Shanroe. 

Keith Donohue set the pace early on with You Say Nothing, but the six-year-old was unable to keep the lead heading into the final stages, with Karl Thornton’s stable star romping to an early success in Monday’s action. 

Sean Flanagan and Jeff Kidder did it again in the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle, with the duo adding to their 80-1 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle win at Cheltenham with another scintillating win over heavy favourite Teahupoo. 

All eyes are heading towards Punchestown at the end of the month for Noel Meade’s star performer, with the trainer reaping the rewards after using him sparingly since the Boxing Day meet at Leopardstown. 

“We gave him a break over Christmas but I was actually worried to leave him off too long, but it’s worked out perfect,” Meade said.  

“He seemed very weak last season as a three-year-old, but he seems to be getting stronger. 

“If he never does anymore he’s done a lot, but I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t go to Punchestown now.”

There were also wins for Denis O’Regan’s ride Max Flamingo in the Fairyhouse Steel Handicap Hurdle, as well as Willie Mullins’ Stormy Ireland in the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle. 

It was a quick-fire double for Mullins in the middle stretch of the day, as Brain Hayes stormed to victory on Easy Game in the Devenish Chase, before Uisce Beatha took victory in the last race of the day under Simon Torrens. 

"This was the race I always wanted to win because I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.” - Dermot McLoughlin

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