Paddy O’Hanlon never thought he would mix with Taoiseach Micheál Martin or the subject of endless selfies as he took the short jaunt to Fairyhouse yesterday, but his star rose into orbit after a famous Irish Grand National success.
The 24-year-old was just happy to compete in Ireland’s richest jump race – with a whopping €500,000 provided by Boylesports – as Dermot McLoughlin-trained Lord Lariat was an unheralded 40/1 shot but he etched his own spot for always in the National Hunt folklore.
O’Hanlon grinned from ear to ear after Lord Lariat’s bold jumping performance easily thwarted Frontal Assault (18/1), one of Gordon Elliott’s 10-man squad to leave the Dublin native in the land of dreams.
“I just told him this is the only time I’m going to meet you,” a beaming O’Hanlon quipped about his conversation with Martin, before revealing his failed Flat background, the winding roads that led him to McLoughlin, and an unusual race revealed pedigree.
“I had a stint with Karl Burke in the north of England, it was a great experience and a great time but I just got a little heavy. I got hurt, I broke my pelvis and I came back and said I would try jumping.
“I ride with Dermot, Andy Mc(Namara), (Denise) ‘Sneezy’ Foster and a few other places and I’m just trying to get those rides these days, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what you stand up for and it’s just absolutely brilliant.
“I’m originally from Glasnevin, Hart’s Corner but have lived in Skryne since secondary school. My dad (Martin) is from Kerry so it’s always been animals and horses and I’ve always followed him around the sales and races.”
The 7-pound contender’s breakthrough success almost produced another winner when trainer Lorna Fowler rocked over amid the celebrations to request his services for her mare Mellificent (25/1) in the final bumper, but he was only found by Patrick Mullins on Hunters Yarn (Even’s favorite), trained by his father Willie.
For McLoughlin, who also won a doubles at the Meath circuit on Easter Sunday, it was an exceptional consecutive triumph at the festival showpiece after 150/1 underdog Freewheelin Dylan prevailed 12 months ago.
That was celebrated amidst dead silence, but what a difference a year makes when 15,000 spectators greet a popular winner, with McLoughlin being the first consecutive winner since the mighty Jim Dreaper in the 1970s. Dreaper’s connection to McLoughlin’s family dates back decades, with the coach’s father Liam landing the National on Kerforo for Tom Dreaper in 1962 while also partnering the legendary Arkle to his first success.
“We’re 10 minutes down the road, last year nobody was here except my family and everyone is here this year, the whole farm and it’s amazing. To do it again at my home circuit is incredible,” said McLoughlin after the 150th edition.
“We planned to do that before Christmas. He won a women’s race here in November when he ran away with jockey Joanna Walton and she said at the time he was going through. Luckily we just sneaked to the foot of the weights.”
It was a day for underdogs, with Elliott bagging a 168/1 double as Iberique Du Seuil (12/1) came home best in the second-rate Juvenile Hurdle under Jack Kennedy during Mullins’ steamy 4/11 -Favorite Icare Allen dropped out.
Promising conditional Shane Fitzgerald continued to build his reputation as he steered Elliott’s Defi Bleu (20/1) to handicap pursuit success, while Joseph O’Brien-trained Darasso (7/2) also got in on the act.
The tough teak hurdler secured his 11th Class 2 hurdle success when he proved a capable proxy after owner JP McManus’ other runner, pre-race favourite, Thedevilscoachman, retired due to the ride was taken.
“He was a great horse for me, that’s two Grade Twos now,” said winning rider Luke Dempsey.
The third Grade Two was not without drama as Easy Game (15/2) won the Devenish Chase for the second time under Brian Hayes, but it was a bittersweet success for Mullins as stablemate Blackbow suffered a fatal injury while Closutton’s Janidil ( 8/11 favourite) ) crashed devastatingly.
“It was a bit of a coincidence. It’s disappointing that Janidil fell and unfortunately the other guy didn’t make it. Unfortunately, those are the ups and downs of the game. He’s a huge loss,” Mullins said of a chaotic event.
Ideal Pal (16/1) was an easy winner of the opening novice handicap hurdle under Jordan Gainford, while the handicap hurdle was a family affair when Charlie O’Dwyer, son of coach Conor, Capilano Bridge (12/1) led to victory.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/dermot-mcloughlin-to-do-it-again-at-my-local-track-is-unbelievable-41564811.html Dermot McLoughlin: To do it again at my home circuit is incredible