When the Grand National at Aintree comes along, casual punters can often be found backing an outsider or two – ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’, as the old saying goes.
Triple-figure gambles rarely pay off in the National – Mon Mome, in 2009, was a 100/1 winner and the first since Foinavon in 1967, however in the Irish version a major upset unfolded on Easter Monday.
Freewheelin Dylan, widely available at betting odds of 150/1, become one of the longest priced winners of a major race in history when he prevailed in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
He was ridden to the front early by Ricky Doyle in thew 3m 5f steeplechase, and most would have expected him to fade as a quality field featuring Latest Exhibition and Agusta Gold assembled behind him.
But the Dermot McLoughlin trained nine-year-old just kept on running, and even with a slight error in flight at the last he was able to stay on well and complete the most remarkable victory.
Latest Exhibition, a former Albert Bartlett Novices Chase runner-up and the 9/2 favourite here, was back in fourth as punters were left scratching their heads at a complete no-hoper running the perfect race from the front.
|1st||Freewheelin Dylan||Ricky Doyle||Dermot McLoughlin||150/1|
|2nd||Run Wild Fred||Jack Kennedy||Denise Foster||9/1|
|3rd||Enjoy D’allen||Conor Orr||Ciaran Murphy||401|
|4th||Latest Exhibition||Bryan Cooper||Paul Nolan||9/2|
|5th||Sempo||Donagh Meyler||Joseph Patrick O’Brien||20/1|
This was Freewheelin Dylan’s first outing since October, where he finished dead last at Punchestown, and Doyle’s first ever Irish Grand National ride. Understandably, he was absolutely delighted with the outcome.
“I could not believe it. I thought everything was too good to be true. His jumping was out of this world,” he told ITV Sport. “It was like a dream the whole way, how well he travelled, unbelievable.
“I’m just so happy. This is everything to me.”
And it was a particularly poignant moment for McLoughlin too. His father had won the Irish National as a jockey way back in 1962, and his training yard is barely a stone’s throw from the Fairyhouse track.
“I have been coming here since I was a young boy and I wanted to win this race from a long time out,” he said.
Could We See a Repeat in the Aintree Grand National?
At the moment there’s no horses widely available at 150/1 in the betting for the Grand National on Saturday but there are a number of outsiders that could reach that price by the day of the race.
One of those is Crievehill, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained nine-year-old who finished eleventh in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Monbeg Notorious, from the yard of disgraced trainer Gordon Elliott, is a former runner-up to Pertemps Network Hurdle silver medallist The Storyteller and won the Thyestes Handicap Chase in 2018 – he’s also 100/1 for the Grand National.
At around 80/1 is Flying Angel, a ten-year-old who was fourth in the Sefton Chase at Aintree in December – the winner that day, Beau Bay, is 66/1 for a repeat on Saturday.
Ante post backers will have everything crossed that Minella Times isn’t withdrawn. The Henry de Bromhead stayer was available at 50/1 in February, but he has since been backed into 12/1 with the news that Rachael Blackmore, the champion jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, is likely to take the ride.
And Manchester United fans will be looking for a long-odds winner in the form of Give Me A Copper, owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and trained by former National victor Paul Nicholls.