Randox Health Grand National favourite Don Poli is rated as ‘doubtful’ to take his place in the showpiece event at Aintree, whilst stablemate and second favourite Empire of Dirt is also set to be pulled out.
The news comes following the release of the Grand National weights ahead of the world’s most famous handicap race in April – and Gigginstown House Stud, who own Don Poli and Empire of Dirt have reacted with anger at those two being given amongst the top weights.
Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for his brother Michael’s Gigginstown Stud, claims British Horseracing Authority Handicapper Phil Smith has been too harsh on three of their horses in the shape of Don Poli, Empire of Dirt and top-weighted Outlander.
O’Leary now insists that Outlander and Empire of Dirt will not go to Liverpool, whilst Don Poli is also unlikely to go.
Gigginstown had the winner of the 2016 in the shape of Rule the World – who has already been ruled out, again trough the weights.
“A handicapper is meant to be impartial. What I’d call the National now is a pre-Brexit, post-Brexit handicap”
“A handicapper is meant to be impartial. What I’d call the National now is a pre-Brexit, post-Brexit handicap,” O’Leary told the Irish Independent.
“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.”
“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.”
The bookmakers at the moment remain unmoved on the market, as both Don Poli and Empire of Dirt remain officially listed, but punters are not coming in for either.
TheGamblingTimes.com spoke to Betfair spokesman Barry Orr, who said they were unlikely to see a lot of money for either at the moment: “Punters are definitely holding fire on these two, they are still both in the race so you can back them.
“They are both going to Cheltenham so we may learn more after that.”