Vieux Lion Rouge on the way to Grand National


3 dec. 2016 – Vieux Lion Rouge puts down Grand National marker with Becher Chase win (n°9 above, in the green red and gold colors of Professor Caroline TISDALL)

Tom Scudamore said he felt his late grandfather Michael was with him as he snatched victory on the line over the Grand National fences aboard David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree. And now Scudamore and the seven-year-old’s connections are dreaming of glory in the Randox Health-sponsored Grand National back at Aintree Racecourse in the spring.

Everton FC fan Scudamore, who is yet to win the Grand National, was scoring for a second time over the big Aintree obstacles having landed the Grand Sefton Chase aboard Pipe’s Poole Master two years ago. Scudamore’s grandfather Michael, who died two years ago, did win the world’s greatest steeplechase aboard Oxo in 1959 and it was emotional success for the leading rider back at Aintree.

And after an typically action-packed contest the current rider in the Scudamore dynasty managed to get 8-1 favourite Vieux Lion Rouge up on the line by a short head to deny Jimmy Moffatt’s Highland Lodge (20-1) back-to-back victories in the 3m2f feature race. Under Henry Brooke Highland Lodge was always prominent but was just denied by the fast-finishing Pipe charge, who had been seventh to Rule The World in the National back in April. This year’s Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri (9-1) was a length back in third place, with Gordon Elliott’s Ucello Conti (10-1) fourth.

Scudamore said: « All the way through he has done it nicely. I had a great ride off him. A couple of times I thought he wasn’t going to find more. He hasn’t been the strongest in a finish in the past, but I think he’s just a stronger horse now. He has seen that out fantastic. « I’ve won the Grand Sefton before so to win another over these fences is a tremendous thrill, it’s always emotional for us as a family because of granddad and Oxo. I watched the National with him and I felt he was helping me all the round today. » He added: « We are long way off, but April (and the Grand National) has got to be part of the plan. »

Now Vieux Lion Rouge will bid to give Pipe a second Grand National victory after Comply Or Die’s success in 2008. Having run well in last season’s race and landed the Becher, Pipe is already planning for a return to Merseyside on April 8 in the new year. He was pushed in to 20-1 joint favourite alongside The Last Samuri and Empire Of Dirt by William Hill. 32 Red were offering 33-1, while The Last Samuri is as low as 14-1 favourite with bet365 for the National. The Pond House handler Pipe said: « This has obviously been the plan for a while, but I wasn’t sure he was going to get there.

« Once Scu bagged the rail at the elbow then I felt like he’d get up and he responded well. « He ran a brilliant race in the National (seventh) but he’s only seven and he didn’t quite get home, he’s a stronger horse now.

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