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Warm weather is music to the ears of Freewheelin Dylan team

Dermot McLoughlin is praying the sun keeps shining to give Freewheelin Dylan every chance of being the first back-to-back winner of the Irish Grand National since Brown Lad in 1975 and 1976.

Freewheelin Dylan caused an almighty 150-1 upset when soaking up the decent ground to take the BoyleSports-sponsored prize at Fariyhouse in 2021, and McLoughlin hopes the sun continues to shine.

“He just seems to come to life at this time of year with a bit of sun on his back,” said McLoughlin, speaking at the launch of this year’s race.

“The horse seems in good form. Looking forward to it now with the sun on his back. He seems to really enjoy this time of year with the ground changing.”

Jockey Ricky Doyle said: “The day was very special and ever since then people know you now. He’s definitely a special horse in my life. You need those horses in your career, so I’m very lucky. Different people using you and a few of the bigger names know who you are now which is good.”

He added: “He shouldn’t have been 150-1 on the day, but luckily the owners backed him. He had form on that ground over those trips, a lot of those horses were unknown trip-wise. Ground is the key to him.”

McLoughlin’s two other entries, Lord Lariat and Opposites Attract, are unlikely to make the cut for the Easter Monday showpiece.

Freewheelin Dylan is a 25-1 shot this time round with the sponsors who make the Willie Mullins-trained Stattler, winner of the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, their 9-1 favourite.

Mullins is responsible for 16 of the 95 entries with Gordon Elliott having 24. They include cross-country chase victor Delta Work and top-weight Galvin, who was fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Last year’s Randox Grand National hero Minella Times is among five from Henry de Bromhead’s possibles, while Lucinda Russell’s Ultima Handicap Chase scorer Corach Rambler is in the UK contingent.

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