And the top weight is… not running

Outlander was announced as a probable non-runner in the Randox Health Grand National just minutes after being unveiled at the head of the weights for the Aintree spectacular.

Outlander heads the weights… but is seemingly more likely to go for other targets.

The Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old, who was last seen winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, was given the steadier of 11st 10lb for the world's most famous steeplechase during a ceremony at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on Tuesday evening.

Hosted by ITV's Ed Chamberlin, the weights were revealed on a big screen in groups of 10 from the bottom of the 109-strong field, before the top 10 horses were shown individually.

However, only moments after Outlander's name was put up in lights, Elliott dismissed any chance of him lining up on April 8.

"He won't be running," said the trainer, who was thrust into the limelight when claiming National glory with Silver Birch 10 years ago.

The Cullentra handler, who has this season emerged as a major threat to Willie Mullins in the race to be crowned champion in Ireland, has a formidable hand of 14 entries in total, more than any other trainer.

Don Poli, ante-post favourite with some bookmakers, is fourth in the weights on 11st 7lb. His stable companion Empire Of Dirt, who was narrowly ahead of Don Poli when runner-up to Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, is just above him on 11st 8lb.

Lord Scoundrel (11st), Clarcam (10st 12lb) and Roi Des Francs (10st 12lb) are other possible representatives for Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud. Gigginstown, the racing operation run by Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary, won the National for the first time last April with Rule The World and have 16 contenders this time around.

Elliott, who has another leading hope in Ucello Conti, said: "It's nice to have a few runners in the race and we will see what happens. I'm probably a little bit disappointed that a few of the top weights are carrying 2lb more in England than they would in Ireland.

"Empire Of Dirt will run in the Gold Cup and we will see what happens after that.

"Don Poli definitely runs. He is in good nick at the moment and he's got solid Grade One form. We are planning to run him in the Gold Cup, then the Grand National.

"Lord Scoundrel will go for the Irish Grand National this year, at the moment. He had a hard enough season through the summer so we have just freshened him up a bit.

"Ucello Conti deserves a big handicap and he is one we are mapping out for Aintree. I think Ucello Conti at 10st 7lb has got a chance of going well.

"Don Poli has got the class but always finds one to beat him."

Phil Smith, the British Horseracing Authority's head of handicapping, revealed the Irish Gold Cup had a significant impact on the National weights.

He said: "The race at Leopardstown on Sunday had a big bearing. It was the crucial race which had a big effect on the top of the handicap."

Disputing favouritism with Don Poli is last year's runner-up The Last Samuri. Kim Bailey's nine-year-old carried 10st 8lb when chasing home Rule The World, but is this year set to carry 11st 5lb.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Champagne West, so impressive under a big weight in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park last month and bound for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, is the second horse on the list with 11st 9lb.

Currently the last horse guaranteed a place in the 40-strong line-up is David Pipe's Vieux Lion Rouge (10st 7lb), winner of the Becher Chase over the famous fences in December.

Other leading contenders include Jimmy Moffatt's Becher runner-up Highland Lodge (10st 6lb), Neil Mulholland's bet365 Gold Cup hero The Young Master (10st 8lb), Lucinda Russell's Classic Chase winner One For Arthur (10st 6lb) and John Kiely's dual Irish Gold Cup scorer Carlingford Lough (11st 6lb).

Of the 109 horses left in the big race, 37 are trained in Ireland. The only French-trained entry is Vieux Morvan (10st 2lb).

The Aintree spectacular is the only handicap of the year where Smith has absolute discretion to deviate from normal handicap ratings when determining the weights.

Smith, who has handicapped the Grand National every year since 1999, hailed this year's renewal as the classiest ever.

He said: "The percentage of horses rated over 135 entered in 2017 is 88 per cent, which is the highest ever. The previous highest percentage of horses in this category was 85 per cent.

"Significantly, the number of horses rated above 150 stands at a record level, with 34 horses falling into that category. If you go back a decade to 2007, there were only half that number (17) having a rating of 150 or higher at the time the weights were unveiled.

"The median rating for all entries in this year's Randox Health Grand National is 146, which again is the highest ever, and if you go back to 2007 it was 137.

"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.

"I think that every horse down to and including the French horse, who is rated 144, has every chance of getting in."

Find out what connections are saying about their chances in this year's race by clicking here.

Randox Health Grand National Weights

HORSE

Age

Wgt

Rating

Owner

Trainer

1)

OUTLANDER (IRE)

9

11-10

166

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

2)

CHAMPAGNE WEST (IRE)

9

11-09

165

Roger Brookhouse

Henry de Bromhead IRE

3)

EMPIRE OF DIRT (IRE)

10

11-08

164

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

4)

DON POLI (IRE)

8

11-07

163

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

5)

CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE)

11

11-06

162

J P McManus

John Kiely IRE

6)

THE LAST SAMURI (IRE)

9

11-05

161

Paul & Clare Rooney

Kim Bailey

7)

ALARY (FR)

7

11-04

160

Ann & Alan Potts

Colin Tizzard

8)

ALELCHI INOIS (FR)

9

11-03

159

L McMahon/Mrs F Murphy/F Mangan

Willie Mullins IRE

9)

MINELLA ROCCO (IRE)

7

11-02

158

J P McManus

Jonjo O'Neill

10)

DEVILS BRIDE (IRE)

10

11-01

157

Gigginstown House Stud

Henry de Bromhead IRE

11)

MORE OF THAT (IRE)

9

11-01

157

J P McManus

Jonjo O'Neill

12)

LORD SCOUNDREL (IRE)

8

11-00

156

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

13)

PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE)

10

11-00

156

ISL Recruitment

Fergal O'Brien

14)

SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR)

8

11-00

156

The Stewart Family

Paul Nicholls

15)

SHANTOU FLYER (IRE)

7

11-00

156

Carl Hinchy

Rebecca Curtis

16)

ROAD TO RICHES (IRE)

10

10-13

155

Gigginstown House Stud

Noel Meade IRE

17)

SAUSALITO SUNRISE (IRE)

9

10-13

155

Diana Whateley

Philip Hobbs

18)

CAROLE'S DESTRIER

9

10-12

154

Carole Skipworth

Neil Mulholland

19)

CLARCAM (FR)

7

10-12

154

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

20)

FOXROCK (IRE)

9

10-12

154

Barry Connell

Ted Walsh IRE

21)

ROI DES FRANCS (FR)

8

10-12

154

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

22)

WONDERFUL CHARM (FR)

9

10-11

153

Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat

Paul Nicholls

23)

WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE)

8

10-11

153

Gigginstown House Stud

Noel Meade IRE

24)

BLAKLION

8

10-10

152

Sarah Such & Gino Paletta

Nigel Twiston-Davies

25)

DROP OUT JOE

9

10-10

152

The Jesters

Charlie Longsdon

26)

TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR)

10

10-10

152

Boultbee Brooks Ltd

Venetia Williams

27)

TIGER ROLL (IRE)

7

10-10

152

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

28)

A TOI PHIL (FR)

7

10-09

151

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

29)

LE MERCUREY (FR)

7

10-09

151

Chris Giles & Colm Donlon

Paul Nicholls

30)

THE GAME CHANGER (IRE)

8

10-09

151

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

31)

CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA)

9

10-08

150

J P McManus

Gordon Elliott IRE

32)

MAGGIO (FR)

12

10-08

150

Douglas Pryde/Jim Beaumont

Patrick Griffin IRE

33)

REGAL ENCORE (IRE)

9

10-08

150

J P McManus

Anthony Honeyball

34)

THE YOUNG MASTER

8

10-08

150

Dajam & The Old Masters

Neil Mulholland

35)

DEFINITLY RED (IRE)

8

10-07

149

Phil Martin

Brian Ellison

36)

DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE)

7

10-07

149

Crossed Fingers Partnership

Tom George

37)

HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR)

10

10-07

149

Mrs Julian Blackwell

Venetia Williams

38)

PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE)

9

10-07

149

Malcolm Denmark

Willie Mullins IRE

39)

UCELLO CONTI (FR)

9

10-07

149

Simon Munir/Isaac Souede

Gordon Elliott IRE

40)

VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR)

8

10-07

149

Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent

David Pipe

41)

BALLYNAGOUR (IRE)

11

10-06

148

Allan Stennett

David Pipe

42)

HIGHLAND LODGE (IRE)

11

10-06

148

Bowes Lodge Stables

James Moffatt

43)

JUNCTION FOURTEEN (IRE)

8

10-06

148

Martin St Quinton & Tim Syder

Emma Lavelle

44)

O'FAOLAINS BOY (IRE)

10

10-06

148

Trembath, Hyde, Outhart & Hill

Rebecca Curtis

45)

ONE FOR ARTHUR (IRE)

8

10-06

148

Two Golf Widows

Lucinda Russell

46)

VIVALDI COLLONGES (FR)

8

10-06

148

The Gi Gi Syndicate

Paul Nicholls

47)

BISHOPS ROAD (IRE)

9

10-05

147

Alan Halsall

Kerry Lee

48)

LORD WINDERMERE (IRE)

11

10-05

147

Dr Ronan Lambe

Jim Culloty IRE

49)

SAINT ARE (FR)

11

10-05

147

David Fox

Tom George

50)

VICENTE (FR)

8

10-05

147

John Hales & Ian Fogg

Paul Nicholls

51)

VICS CANVAS (IRE)

14

10-05

147

Bodeen Bandits Partnership

Dermot McLoughlin IRE

52)

ZIGA BOY (FR)

8

10-05

147

Axom LI

Alan King

53)

JUST A PAR (IRE)

10

10-04

146

Paul Barber & the late Graham Roach

Paul Nicholls

54)

MEASUREOFMYDREAMS (IRE)

9

10-04

146

Gigginstown House Stud

Noel Meade IRE

55)

RAZ DE MAREE (FR)

12

10-04

146

James J Swan

Gavin Cromwell

56)

STELLAR NOTION (IRE)

9

10-04

146

Roger Brookhouse

Henry de Bromhead IRE

57)

AS DE MEE (FR)

7

10-03

145

The Stewart Family & Judi Dench

Paul Nicholls

58)

COCKTAILS AT DAWN

9

10-03

145

Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat

Nicky Henderson

59)

PENDRA (IRE)

9

10-03

145

J P McManus

Charlie Longsdon

60)

ROGUE ANGEL (IRE)

9

10-03

145

Gigginstown House Stud

Mouse Morris IRE

61)

SEVENTH SKY (GER)

10

10-03

145

Fidelma Toole

Charlie Mann

62)

SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (IRE)

10

10-03

145

J P McManus

Jonjo O'Neill

63)

GAS LINE BOY (IRE)

11

10-02

144

The Three Graces

Ian Williams

64)

GOODTOKNOW

9

10-02

144

Burling Daresbury MacEchern Nolan Potter

Kerry Lee

65)

THE ROMFORD PELE (IRE)

10

10-02

144

Trembath & Outhart

Rebecca Curtis

66)

THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE)

9

10-02

144

Gigginstown House Stud

Mouse Morris IRE

67)

TRIOLO D'ALENE (FR)

10

10-02

144

Sandy & Caroline Orr

Nicky Henderson

68)

VIEUX MORVAN (FR)

8

10-02

144

N H Bloodstock Ltd

Isabelle Pacault FR

69)

DOCTOR HARPER (IRE)

9

10-01

143

The Johnson Family

David Pipe

70)

GALLANT OSCAR (IRE)

11

10-01

143

J P McManus

Tony Martin IRE

71)

LA VATICANE (FR)

8

10-01

143

Maria Bukhtoyarova

David Pipe

72)

BLESS THE WINGS (IRE)

12

10-00

142

Adrian Butler/S P O'Connor

Gordon Elliott IRE

73)

TOUR DES CHAMPS (FR)

10

10-00

142

Prestbury Racing Club

Samuel Drinkwater

74)

KNOCK HOUSE (IRE)

8

9-13

141

Tim Leslie

Donald McCain

75)

HADRIAN'S APPROACH (IRE)

10

9-12

140

Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes

Nicky Henderson

76)

BENBENS (IRE)

12

9-11

139

Sarah Such & Gino Paletta

Nigel Twiston-Davies

77)

POTTERS CROSS

10

9-11

139

Conyers, O'Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman

Rebecca Curtis

78)

SAMBREMONT (FR)

7

9-11

139

Shanakiel Racing Syndicate

Willie Mullins IRE

79)

STRAIDNAHANNA (IRE)

8

9-11

139

Margaret Scholey & Ray Scholey

Sue Smith

80)

VIVA STEVE (IRE)

9

9-11

139

Paul & Clare Rooney

Fergal O'Brien

81)

CLOUDY TOO (IRE)

11

9-10

138

Formulated Polymer Products Ltd

Sue Smith

82)

LAMB OR COD (IRE)

10

9-10

138

Terry Warner

Philip Hobbs

83)

MILANSBAR (IRE)

10

9-10

138

Robert Bothway

Neil King

84)

POLIDAM (FR)

8

9-10

138

Simon Munir/Isaac Souede

Willie Mullins IRE

85)

DROMNEA (IRE)

10

9-09

137

Ann Daly

Mouse Morris IRE

86)

STREETS OF PROMISE (IRE)

8

9-09

137

Gempro

Michael Scudamore

87)

VYTA DU ROC (FR)

8

9-09

137

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede

Nicky Henderson

88)

BEEVES (IRE)

10

9-08

136

Paul & Clare Rooney

Jennie Candlish

89)

ROYALE KNIGHT

11

9-08

136

Chris Stedman & Robert Corsan

Dr Richard Newland

90)

ALFIE SPINNER (IRE)

12

9-07

135

Alan Beard & Brian Beard

Kerry Lee

91)

EMPEROR'S CHOICE (IRE)

10

9-07

135

The Bellamy Partnership

Venetia Williams

92)

GOULANES (IRE)

11

9-07

135

Roger Brookhouse

Neil Mulholland

93)

LESSONS IN MILAN (IRE)

9

9-07

135

Trevor Hemmings

Nicky Henderson

94)

MOUNTAIN KING

8

9-07

135

Jack McKay/Paul McKay/Mark McKay

Gordon Elliott IRE

95)

OUT SAM

8

9-07

135

Swanee River Partnership

Warren Greatrex

96)

SIZING COAL (IRE)

9

9-07

135

Alan & Ann Potts Partnership

Jim Dreaper IRE

97)

DARE TO ENDEAVOUR

10

9-06

134

Aidan J Ryan

Eric McNamara IRE

98)

FATHER EDWARD (IRE)

8

9-06

134

Fergus Wilson

David Pipe

99)

SAMINGARRY (FR)

10

9-06

134

Nigel Hawke Racing Club & Partner

Nigel Hawke

100)

SILVER MAN

10

9-06

134

John Wardle

Jo Hughes

101)

ALVARADO (IRE)

12

9-05

133

William & Angela Rucker

Fergal O'Brien

102)

MILBOROUGH (IRE)

11

9-05

133

Helen Cross

Ian Duncan

103)

THE CRAFTY BUTCHER (IRE)

10

9-04

132

P Byrne/P W Mullins/D Ryan/I Madigan

Willie Mullins IRE

104)

WALDORF SALAD

9

9-04

132

Alan Parker

Venetia Williams

105)

KATENKO (FR)

11

9-03

131

Andrew Brooks

Venetia Williams

106)

FEDERICI

8

9-02

130

Jon Glews

Donald McCain

107)

GONE TOO FAR

9

9-01

129

Fergus Wilson

David Pipe

108)

RACING PULSE (IRE)

8

9-01

129

Carl Hinchy

Rebecca Curtis

109)

KILLER CROW (IRE)

8

9-00

128

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

109 entries, 37 Irish-trained, 1 French-trained

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