The weights for this year’s Randox Health Grand National were unveiled in a ceremony at the Victoria & Albert Museum on Tuesday evening, with Irish-trained runners dominating the top-end.
Recent Lexus Chase winner, Outlander, assumed position at the head of the weights with 11st 10lbs but not long after was ruled out of the £1 million steeplechase by his trainer Gordon Elliott.
The County Meath handler won the prize with Silver Birch in 2007 and is mob-handed this time around with 14 entries.
They include Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli, both of whom finished second and third in Sunday’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown behind Sizing John.
As with Elliott’s runners further down the weights they are all owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, last year’s winning connections.
Phil Smith, BHA head of handicapping, said: “The percentage of horses rated over 135 entered in 2017 is 88 per cent, which is the highest ever,” he said. “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  with a rating of 150 or higher at the time the weights were unveiled.”
Smith added: “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.”
Lying second behind Outlander is the Henry De Bromhead-trained Champagne West. Formerly in the care of Philip Hobbs in Britain, the nine-year-old ran out an emphatic winner of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park last month and will carry 11st 9lbs should he line up.
Significantly, the number of horses rated above 150 stands at a record level
Further down the weights with 11st 5lbs is last year’s runner-up The Last Samuri. Kim Bailey’s gelding has only been seen twice this season with the most recent of those appearances coming over the National fences in the Becher Handicap Chase back in December.
That day he finished third behind the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge, another who is in the lineup with 10st 7lbs.
Killer Crow, one of the Gigginstown contingent, is at the bottom of the pile with 9st.
A maximum of 40 horses can line up for the Randox Health Grand National, over 30 fences and an extended four miles and two furlongs. It will be televised on ITV1 at 5.15pm on April 8.