In April, Freewheelin’ Dylan caused a major upset when winning the Irish Grand National at odds of 150-1 for Dermot McLoughlin under a blistering front-running ride at Fairyhouse.
It was the longest-priced winner of the race since its inception in 1870 and was far more unsurprising than Minella Times’s Aintree success under Rachael Blackmore five days later.
However, off just a 2lb lower mark eight months earlier, the son of Curtain Time took home the Midlands National at Kilbeggan when holding off a late charge from Three Musketeers to win by a nose under Ricky Doyle.
On Thursday, the 9-year-old will bid to land back-to-back wins in the contest in a hot-looking renewal in County Westmeath.
His handler told the Racing Post that he has some big plans for his stable-star, including a possible tilt on Merseyside for next season’s equivalent.
“Options are thin on the ground and, given he loves Kilbeggan, you kind of have to go back there. He will have to carry top weight in the Midlands National but we could always claim off him.
“Galway wouldn’t suit him so he won’t go for the Plate so it will more than likely be Kilbeggan and then we could even aim him at some of the cross-country races before heading to the Aintree Grand National.”
Enda Bolger’s Killarney National victor Shady Operator is set to feature on Thursday, while Roaring Bull is back down to his last winning mark.