Grand National 2017: Don Poli among eight Gigginstown House Stud withdrawals

Don Poli
Don Poli was third in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Randox Health Grand National
Date: Saturday, 8 April Venue: Aintree racecourse Time: 17:15 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, text updates on the BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Outlander, Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli are among eight horses withdrawn from the Grand National at Aintree by Irish owners Gigginstown House Stud.

Gigginstown boss Michael O'Leary was furious with some of the weights allocated by handicapper Phil Smith.

Devil's Bride, Clarcam, Tiger Roll, A Toi Phil and The Game Changer were also taken out, but eight Gigginstown contenders remain in the 8 April race.

A total of 95 entries go forward, with a maximum final field of 40.

Fifteen horses were withdrawn at the latest entry stage. The others are: Champagne West, Devils Bride, Triolo D'Alene, Vieux Morvan, Gallant Oscar, Tour Des Champs, Dromnea and Otago Trail.

The weighting game
Unlike the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where horses race off level weights, the Grand National is a handicap.
Horses are ranked according to their previous form, with the best given top weight.
The handicapper's ultimate (although in practice unfeasible) aim is for the horses to pass the winning post in a dead heat.
The closest finish came in 2012 when Neptune Collonges denied Sunnyhillboy by the shortest possible distance - a nose.

Trainer Gordon Elliott had indicated Outlander would not run as soon as he was allocated top weight of 11st 10lb, and Ryanair boss O'Leary has lived up to his vow to withdraw several of his leading hopes.

Road To Riches and Rogue Angel are among his horses still in the marathon contest, for which the weights are now headed by Carlingford Lough, with last year's runner-up The Last Samuri next on the list.

Smith has denied the suggestion there might be an anti-Irish bias. He said British handicappers keeping their own performance figures for Irish races has "given our handicaps greater equality and fairness".

Vieux Lion Rouge, trained in Somerset by David Pipe, is the 10-1 favourite for the big race after winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock in November.

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