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Injury forces £170,000 Grand National runner Don Poli to miss RoR Aintree debut

Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Don Poli, formerly trained by Gordon Elliott, was purchased by Darren Yates to run in Aintree’s 2019 Grand National won by Tiger Roll

Cheltenham Festival winner Don Poli before his injury

Six-figure Grand National purchase Don Poli was denied a return trip to Aintree through injury.

The fans’ favourite, bought for £170,000 by Darren Yates to run in the 2019 renewal, was due to make his RoR debut at the Liverpool venue.

Last to finish behind Tiger Roll in the spruce-fenced marathon more than two years ago, Don Poli was entered in several classes in the Jockey Club Retraining of Racehorses National Championships.

A last-minute injury put a stop to those plans however – and now the much-loved 12-year-old faces a lengthy recovery at rider Lucy Holland’s stables.

“I was absolutely gutted to miss the championships – more for him because I know he would have loved it,” she said.

“As much as I am upset not to have been there I just want to get him right and to recover so he can enjoy his retirement.”

Don Poli, trained by the likes of Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton under Rules, is living out his days with Lucy Holland

Under Yates’ ownership, Don Poli completed Aintree’s unique course in 19th place when trained by Phil Kirby.

After a non-completion at the Punchestown Festival, he was switched to Nick Pearce’s yard and won two point-to-points.

He finished down the field in the 2020 Foxhunter Chase and later that year had two outings for Dan Skelton.

Yates decided to call it a day with the 2015 RSA Chase hero, who also won at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months earlier, taking the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

“When Darren and Annaley Yates decided they wanted to retire him they told me they couldn’t think of anyone better than me to have him,” Holland said.

“I was completely overwhelmed and I can’t thank them enough for giving him to me. He’s a very special horse and they think the world of him.

Bryan Cooper riding Don Poli to win the 2015 RSA Steeple Chase at the Cheltenham Festival



“Don is a horse in a million. He’s very gentle and loves attention. He’s brilliant to ride – always trying his best even if he’s finding the exercise challenging.”

Don Poli, who finished in the first three in all bar one of his 14 runs for trainer Willie Mullins, was set to line-up in the RoR ridden show newcomer and 2022 amateur ridden show series qualifier classes, plus the Always a Star parade.

It is hoped he will be able to enter competitions once he is back to full fitness.

“We’re not sure how he picked up the injury,” Holland added.

“One day he was fine and the next he wasn’t. He loves playing in the field with his mates so it might be from then.

“We’re now on ten minute walks twice a day, which will go up to 20 minutes and then 30. After that he’ll have more scans and I’ll get the next treatment programme.

“We’re looking around six months until he’s back to full work.”

There were more than 250 entries for the RoR event, which took place from August 26-29.

Minella Rebellion, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson, was crowned Supreme Champion teaming up with Katie Dashwood.

First Fandango, the winner of more than £60,000 when racing, was another horse victorious at the show, along with popular veteran Monkerty Tunkerty.

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