Gigginstown’s big three withdrawn from Aintree Grand National
Michael O’Leary’s Don Poli, Empire of Dirt and Outlander taken out at the forfeit stage
Michael O’Leary: had suggested he would not run any of his big three after disagreeing with the weight they had been allotted at Aintree. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Owner Michael O’Leary had suggested he would not run any of his big three after disagreeing with the weight they had been allotted and he has kept his word, with the Gordon Elliott-trained trio now heading to the Cheltenham Festival.
Champagne West, Dromnea and Otago Trail have been scratched along with several other Gigginstown runners including Clarcam, Tiger Roll and A Toi Phil.
The weights are now headed by Carlingford Lough, with last year’s runner-up The Last Samuri, who is due to run this weekend, next on the list.
Emma Lavelle’s Junction Fourteen now has 10st 10lb and she is pleased with his weight despite him never having won over further than two miles and six furlongs.
“I was happy enough with the rating he was allotted, he will be carrying a lot less than he has been in his races and we are looking forward to it,” she said.
“He is a horse that travels and loves his jumping. He is also a horse loves his food! That is why we just need to see how straight he is before deciding where he runs next.
“He has run all right on soft ground but prefers good or good to soft ground.
“This year when he was up against the big boys over two and a half miles, he just wasn’t quick enough, but there was no doubt he kept going at Ascot over three miles and we think he has a chance of staying at Aintree.
“You never know until you run them as it is an extended distance, but I don’t think it is the case that we will be going there thinking he is a very doubtful stayer. Fingers crossed we can make the line-up – it is a case of both work and cotton wool in the build-up.”
A total of 95 horses are still in the National reckoning, with David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge heading the ante-post market.