Top-weighted Grand National contender ruled out

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  • Outlander topped the weights for the 2017 Grand National — but will not be running.

    Trainer Gordon Elliott revealed that the Grade One winner would not start just moments after it was announced the horse would be carrying the most weight (11st 10lb).

    However, he still has two others in the top four weighted runners — Empire Of Dirt (11st 8lb) and Don Poli (11st 7lb) — and 10 other entries.

    Irish-trained horses fill the top five spots, with the Henry de Bromhead-trained Champagne West in second carrying 11st 9lb and Carlingford Lough (John Kiely) in fifth with 11st 6lb.

    A countdown of the weights, decided by the British Horseracing Authority’s head of handicapping Phil Smith, took place last night (14 February) at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

    Mr Smith said the 2017 entries includes the highest-ever percentage of top rated horses ever.

    “When I get the entries, I have a train of thought and then something happens which means I have to change that,” he said.

    “The race at Leopardstown on Sunday (the Irish Gold Cup, in which Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli finished second and third respectively) 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.”

    Article continues below…

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    A maximum of 40 horses will start in the iconic Aintree race, held this year at 5.15pm on 8 April and sponsored by Randox Health.

    Last year’s runner-up The Last Samuri (11st 5lb) and three-time Grade One winner Don Poli (11st 7lb) are joint favourites at 16/1.

    Click here for the full list of entries and weights.

    What do the weights mean?

    As the Grand National is a handicap, horses are ranked and carry different weights depending on their past performance.

    This means a runner who is statistically likely to do better will carry more weight than one with less form.

    The Grand National is the only handicap race where Mr Smith has the absolute discretion to deviate from the normal ratings when deciding on the weights each runner will carry.

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