The AXA Farm Insurance Midland National crown will be on the line this weekend as Dermot McLoughlin’s stable star Freewheelin Dylan is set to return to Kilbeggan Racecourse as reigning champion.

Set to take place tomorrow (Friday, July 9), the race will see Freewheelin Dylan seek to defend his title.

Since winning the flagship race at Kilbeggan races in 2020, Freewheelin Dylan, owned by Sheila Mangan and ridden by Ricky Doyle, went on to become the biggest-priced winner of the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at 150-1.

The historic win on Easter Monday fulfilled a lifetime ambition for trainer Dermot McLoughlin, who trains on Fairyhouse’s doorstep.

Over 33 entries have been received for the Kilbeggan highlight including recent course winner The West Awake, trained by Edward O’Grady.

Other strong entries, include The Echo Boy and Jerandme, who were first and second in the Connaught National in Roscommon, while Punchestown Festival winner Rapid Response, trained by Jessica Harrington and Brian Boru winner of the McHale Mayo National at Ballinrobe also hold entries.

Lauren Gavigan, Axa Agri, pictured with Freewheelin Dylan

Christy Doherty, head of agriculture at AXA Ireland, said:

“The AXA Farm Insurance Midlands National at Kilbeggan allows us to be part of the farming community who are the backbone of the racing community across rural Ireland.

Paddy Dunican, Kilbeggan Races managing director, said: “The AXA Farm Insurance Midlands National has developed into one of the highlights of the summer racing calendar. We are really excited to see Freewheelin Dylan line-up again this year to defend his crown.

“The continued support of AXA, one of Ireland’s leading insurance groups, now specialising in farm insurance, and the additional funding from Horse Racing Ireland, values the race at €75,000.”

Jason Morris, director of racing at Horse Racing Ireland, said: “2020 saw an incredibly strong renewal of the AXA Farm Insurance Midlands National and this year’s contest, on July 9, sees another very high calibre of entries, as merited by the significant €75,000 prize fund on offer for this hugely prestigious contest”.