Ratoath trainer Dermot McLoughlin and groom Molly O'Connor celebrate with Freewheelin' Dylan following victory in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse today. Photo Gerry Shanahan / www.quirke.ie

McLoughlin freewheels to stunning Irish Grand National victory

Ratoath trainer Dermot McLoughlin saddled Freewheelin' Dylan to a sensational pillar to post victory in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse today.

Listed as a rank outsider, Freewheelin' Dylan had decent form after winning the Midlands National at Kilbeggan last July, but that run wasn't reflected in his starting odds of 150/1 and he ran like an odds on favourite as he was never headed over the three mile five furlong feature on the final day of a thrilling Easter Festival.

Given a brilliant ride by Ricky Doyle, the McLoughlin-trained nine-year-old was always travelling well and although the challengers loomed, he never looked like buckling.

Run Wild Fred got closest, a length and a quarter away, with Enjoy D'allen another three lengths back in third and 9-2 favourite Latest Exhibition a creditable fourth under the burden of 11st 10lb.

"Coming here we knew he'd enjoy the ground, he loves jumping out there and I said to Ricky before the race that if he can make it, then make it, if not just drop him in and he said he'd be positive on him anyway and he obviously was, it's great," commented McLoughlin after the win," said the thrilled trainer after the race.

"It was a similar day when he won the Midlands National in Kilbeggan during the summer, so when he gets into a rhythm like that and keeps going it is hard to get by him.

"I'm training only four mile down the road, I could walk to here if I had to. It's a race I always wanted to win, my father rode the winner in 1962, so it's grand.

"We have been coming here since I was a young boy and I always wanted to try to have a go at it (the Irish National), it's great for Shelia at home in the yard as well, she works hard for me. It's great to see her horse win.

"Sheila (Mangan) works at home in the yard, she's a great girl. We bought this horse off Shane Donoghue about three years ago and he won a couple of point-to-points. He has kept progressing and kept progressing and his jumping is his forte, so thank God all went well," concluded McLoughlin.

Dermot McLoughlin's father Liam won the 1962 Irish Grand National on board Kerforo for trainer Tom Dreaper.

The day got off to a great start for McLoughlin when he saddled Mr Josiey Wales to win the opener in Cork when Danny Hand steered home the 4/6 favourite in a maiden hurdle, but the victory in the Irish National capped a dream day for the Ratoath trainer.

Noel Meade good the last day of the festival off a decent start for local trainers when he trained Cheltenham 80/1 hero Jeff Kidder to victory in the Juvenile Hurdle to see off hot favourite Teahupoo from the Cullentra House yard under Robbie Power.

The second Meath winner of the day was supplied by Stamullen handler Francis Casey as he sent 4/1 joint favourite Max Flamingo to victory in the 2m6f Handicap Hurdle under jockey Denis O'Regan.

Max Flamingo found trouble in running a few times, but finished off best at the business end. The 4/1 joint-favourite came to challenge at the second last but was untidy at that flight. He jumped the last upsides and asserted on the run-in to post a length-and-three-quarters success over Millen To One who landed on four feet at the last.

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