National Favourite Don Poli A Doubtful Runner

Thu 16th Feb 2017, 10:53

Rule The World (David Mullins) winning last year's National
©Healy Racing Photos
Don Poli, favourite for the Randox Health Grand National with most bookmakers, is a doubtful runner according to Eddie O'Leary.

O'Leary, racing manager for his brother Michael's Gigginstown House Stud, claims British Horseracing Authority Handicapper Phil Smith has been too harsh on the Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old.

A dual Cheltenham Festival winner when trained by Willie Mullins, Don Poli has finished second in the Lexus and third in the Irish Gold Cup on his last two outings.

Gigginstown won the Grand National last season with Mouse Morris' Rule The World but the then nine-year-old was retired swiftly after as connections felt he would never be given a fair crack of the whip in future Nationals.

Gigginstown is responsible for three of the top four in the weights for the Aintree showpiece but Elliott has already ruled top-weight Outlander out of the race, Empire Of Dirt has either the Ryanair or Gold Cup at Cheltenham as his main aim and it now appears there is little chance of Don Poli heading to Liverpool.

O'Leary told the Irish Independent: "Gordon has announced Outlander would not run, the simple reason he was given far too much weight - a higher mark than any horse who ran in the race in recent years.

"He (Phil Smith) wants to compress the weights so better horses get more of a chance, and that's fair enough. Yet our three top horses got 2lb more from a guy who wants to compress the weights.

"A handicapper is meant to be impartial. What I'd call the National now is a pre-Brexit, post-Brexit handicap.

"That denied him (Rule The World) a chance to come back. He's as sound and as fit as could be.

"We'll run very, very few in the race. Don Poli is doubtful, while Outlander is ruled out. Empire Of Dirt won't go."

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