O’Leary: Gold run isn’t grand

Michael O'Leary plans to run Don Poli and Outlander in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after he again reiterated his displeasure at the weights allotted to some of his horses in the Grand National.

Gigginstown owner Michael O'Leary

O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud operation claimed the Aintree spectacular for the first time last season as the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World emerged triumphant on Merseyside.

The Grand National weights were revealed on Tuesday evening and Gigginstown are responsible for three of the top four horses, in Outlander, Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt.

However, Outlander was all but ruled out on the night by trainer Gordon Elliott, and O'Leary has since said he has no intention of letting his stable companions Don Poli or Empire Of Dirt line up, either, following a public dispute with the British Horseracing Authority's chief handicapper, Phil Smith, who has discretion over how he frames the National weights.

Despite claiming Don Poli could be beaten "two furlongs" by ante-post favourite Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup, O'Leary still plans on letting him take his chance in the blue riband along with Lexus winner Outlander.

Speaking at Navan on Sunday, the Ryanair supremo said: "If they all arrive fit and well it's likely we'll run Outlander and Don Poli in the Gold Cup and probably Sub Lieutenant and Empire Of Dirt in the Ryanair Chase.

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"I think the Ryanair is the logical race for Empire Of Dirt to go in. I would love to win it, I've spent 10 years trying to without any great success.

"With Sub Lieutenant and Empire Of Dirt we'll have a reasonable team."

Commenting further on the Grand National, O'Leary told At The Races: "My only issue is these are good horses and they shouldn't have to suffer a penalty to run over four-and-a-quarter miles.

"Thankfully in the case of Outlander, Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt they can go for other races in Cheltenham, Aintree or come back for the Irish Grand National.

"But they're not running at the top of the weights (at Aintree). I think it would be a danger to the welfare of those horses. We lost Hear The Echo in 2009, he was carrying 8lb more than his handicap weight.

"These are well-exposed horses, it's not like we've been running in hurdles all year long.

"Don Poli has run three times in Grade Ones (this season) and been beaten in all of them, and yet Phil Smith has him up at 165, 5lb less than Thistlecrack.

"I think if he runs against Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup he'll be beaten two furlongs."

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