It can only get better when Phil Smith goes – Eddie O'Leary on the National
Gigginstown have 11 entries but 'won't run anything unfairly handicapped'
The Randox Health Grand National will be an even better race after BHA head of handicapping Phil Smith has presided over the allocation of weights for the 20th and final time.
That was the powerful opinion delivered on Thursday by Gigginstown House Stud's racing manager Eddie O'Leary, the owners having entered 11 horses for this year's £1 million spectacular at Aintree on April 14 despite the almighty rumpus of 12 months ago.
O'Leary and brother Michael – boss of budget airline Ryanair – were furious at weights allotted to some of their horses for the National last season, especially their trio of top-rated contenders, the ante-post favourite Don Poli, topweight Outlander and Empire Of Dirt, none of whom lined up.
Michael O'Leary cited "horse welfare" among his reasons for not running the trio, while accusing Smith of making up the rules and dismissing his rationale for the weights as "utter drivel".
Smith is retiring in May, and Tuesday week will witness the unveiling of the final set of weights he allocates for the National.
Gigginstown appear unlikely to contribute to a gold watch, and Eddie O'Leary said on Thursday, a day after entries were published for this year's contest: “The Grand National is a fantastic race but it can only get better when Phil Smith goes.”
O'Leary said the champion Irish owners will be represented in the world-famous contest only if they feel their candidates are fairly treated.
He continued: “It’s a race we love and we’ll always have runners in it as long as they aren’t handicapped out of the thing.
"We’ve entered 11 this week and we’ll see what happens, but we won’t be running anything that is unfairly handicapped.”
Gigginstown have entered A Genie In Abottle, Alpha Des Obeaux, General Principle, Outlander, Road To Riches, Rogue Angel, Sub Lieutenant, Thunder And Roses, Tiger Roll, Valseur Lido and Wounded Warrior.
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