Three-time Grade One winner Don Poli is set to be campaigned this season towards the Grand National at Aintree in April. Gordon Elliott’s runner has long been talked about as being an ideal candidate for the 4m4f marathon, however, connections went for the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season where their horse came home third behind Don Cossack and Djakadam.
Don Poli reached a career-high official rating of 167 last season when he won the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at their festive meeting. The heavy ground at the Irish track on that occasion played in his favour as he outstayed his rivals, which included First Lieutenant and Sir Des Champs.
The Gigginstown Stud-owned horse did not get the conditions he was looking for at Cheltenham for the Blue Riband event of the festival as the ground came up Good which favoured the victor Don Cossack. Don Poli did go one place better in his next Grade One outing at Aintree a month later, however, he finished nine lengths behind Cue Card who made up for his fall in the Gold Cup to pick up some compensation for his connections.
The long campaign caught up with Don Poli on his final outing of the 2015/16 season at the Punchestown Gold Cup where he ran flat to come home third of six runners in the Cup which was taken by Carlingford Lough.
With higher-rated horses having a lot of success in the Grand National in recent years, connections won’t be put off by the world’s famous steeplechase. Their horse will be handicapped near the top of the weights; however, former Hennessy winner Many Clouds won the race off 11-10 in 2015, while in 2013 Neptune Collonges succeeded with 11-06 on his back.
Don Poli has been chalked up at 25/1 to win the 2017 Grand National by the bookmakers but do shop around for the best odds whether you are betting in a high-street shop, online, on your mobile or with bitcoins, the latest innovation in gambling this year – click here for more information on how to bet with the digital currency.
The seven-year old made his seasonal reappearance at Down Royal earlier this month in the Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase. He was up with the pace for the majority of that 3m contest; however, he faded in the closing stages and was eventually pulled up by jockey Barry Geraghty.
Don Poli does have an entry in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but a decision on that race may depend on how the ground comes up for the feature contest around Christmas. Other options for the horse include the Lexus Chase again where he’d be defending his crown, while there is a meeting at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day which could be considered.
If Don Poli is successful in the Grand National next year, he will be only the second eight-year-old to win the race in the last 15 years. However, the last two winners, Many Clouds and Rule The World, won the 4m4f contest at their first attempt.