Gordon Elliott’s Outlander handed topweight for Aintree Grand National
Irish trainer leads the way with 14 runners for famous steeplechase
Outlander (left), with Jack Kennedy up, on their way to winning The Lexus Steeplechase during the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Photograph: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Horses trained in Ireland dominate the top of the Aintree Grand National weights which were released on Tuesday night, with British racing’s head of handicapping describing it as a “symbol of the respective strength of Irish and UK jump racing”.
A total of 37 of the 109 entries for the world’s most famous steeplechase on April 8th are Irish trained and 16 of them are owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud, which won last year with the 33-1 shot Rule The World.
Their Lexus winner Outlander, who goes for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in four weeks, is topweight, followed by another Gold Cup contender, Champagne West and another O’Leary pair, Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli.
Gordon Elliott is the most numerically powerful trainer with 14 hopefuls entered for a race in which only 40 can run.
The National is the sole race in which handicapper Phil Smith has discretion in framing the weights and he said: “The top of the handicap is dominated by Irish-trained horses which is a symbol of the respective strength of Irish and UK jump racing.”
Smith admitted that the Irish Gold Cup, where Sizing John beat Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli into the places, had a significant impact on the National weights.
“When I get the entries, I have a train of thought and then something happens which means I have to change that.
“The race at Leopardstown on Sunday had a big bearing on the weights. It was the crucial race, two days before the weights, which had a big effect on the top of the handicap.”
Don Poli and last year’s runner-up The Last Samuri are towards the top of most ante-post betting lists.