Amazingly, local trainer Dermot McLoughlin made it back-to-back wins in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday when his Lord Lariat, ridden by Paddy O’Hanlon, sprung a 40/1 surprise.
McLoughlin, who sent out 150/1 shot Freewheelin Dylan to win the race last season, became the first trainer to complete consecutive wins in the race since his old boss Jim Dreaper in 1976. In contrast to his celebrations last year, this time the success came in front of a buoyant crowd of 15,000, at the first-attended National day since 2019.
O’Hanlon, 23, is from Glasnevin, Co Dublin, but now lives just a few miles from the track and he played an integral role in this success by getting Lord Lariat into a lovely rhythm while racing prominently alongside Frontal Assault.
That pair were to the head of affairs heading into the straight but it was clear by the second last that Lord Lariat would take some catching. He kicked further clear before the last and it was all over then.
“The horse jumped, travelled, enjoyed himself and it was a bit like last year,” said McLoughlin. “It doesn’t usually work out this way. We’ve been coming here since a young age and it’s great to win this again. My wife and kids are here today which they couldn’t be last year and that means an awful lot.”
Given he has a yard of around 40 horses, this has to rate a monumental achievement from McLoughlin, especially when you contextualise it through the records of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins in this race, given they have had just a single winner each.
The Pat Blake and PJ Casey-owned seven-year-old was bought for just €5,500 as a three-year-old, and he took home a €270,000 first prize.