Vieux Lion Rouge rolled again the years to win the William Hill Becher Handicap Chase for a second time at Aintree.
Profitable in 2016, the 11-year-old was making his fifth consecutive look within the race and ninth general over the well-known Grand Nationwide fences.
Leaping into the lead on the second-last within the fingers of Conor O’Farrell, the David Pipe-trained 12-1 probability galloped away from the opposition to land the spoils by 24 lengths. Kimberlite Sweet was second for the second 12 months operating, with Le Breuil 4 and three-quarter lengths away in third place.
There was drama from the outset, with Yala Enki falling on the first and Stroll In The Mill – winner for the final two years – exiting on the Chair together with Coo Star Sivola, whereas Minellacelebration stumbled and unseated Ben Poste because the the sector was about to set off on its second circuit.
The well-fancied Le Breuil led for a way, however a foul mistake 4 out didn’t assist his trigger as Vieux Lion Rouge made his means into rivalry and victory.
O’Farrell mentioned: “That was tremendous. He is an outdated star who is aware of his means round right here and is sensible over these fences.
“There was loads of tempo at present, so we took our time and let him get right into a rhythm and he noticed it out very effectively.
“There was so much happening, however the course is huge sufficient and you’ll give your self gentle in every single place if you wish to.
“He has a good report over these fences and to win this race for a second time, at his age, is unbelievable.
“I am delighted for David and for Caroline (Tisdall, part-owner) as effectively. I spoke to her beforehand and all she mentioned was ‘be sure you each come again safely’.”
Vieux Lion Rouge was given a quote of 50-1 for the Randox Well being Grand Nationwide with Betfair, though he has not managed to finish within the Nationwide itself thus far.
Talking from dwelling, Pipe mentioned: “What a horse over these fences. Leaping is the secret and it is an awesome effort by the crew.
“He is dropped a number of kilos within the handicap, the rain got here and I believed he was in good kind. I mentioned to Conor this morning and mentioned ‘he’ll take you spherical there, simply take your time and creep into it’.
“Conor rode him to win a veterans’ chase final 12 months and used to work right here (Pond Home). He is clearly based mostly up north now, however when Tom (Scudamore) selected Ramses De Teillee (completed seventh), Conor was the apparent alternative.
“I consider the horse has now jumped 223 fences across the Nationwide course at Aintree – he appears to gentle up for the event and his report is second to none. He is like Fred Astaire round there!
“He would not appear to remain the Grand Nationwide journey and I did not suppose he’d even get into the race earlier than at present, however now he may.
“He is within the Welsh Grand Nationwide and can be certified for the veterans’ remaining at Sandown as effectively, so presumably a kind of two races could be his subsequent goal.”
Tom Lacey was happy with Kimberlite Sweet’s effort and he may very well be again in April for the Nationwide.
Lacey mentioned: “He is run an absolute cracker, however no person desires to be second.
“I noticed a lot of the race on the massive display and it seemed like he put in an nearly excellent spherical of leaping, excluding the primary.
“He is run a cracker, however clearly we’re vastly dissatisfied to stumble upon a really spectacular winner.
“He is carried out nothing incorrect and appears to relish these fences. I can not see why he will not be again right here in April if we get a moist spring, however we’ll recover from at present first and communicate to Frank Berry (racing supervisor to proprietor JP McManus) and see what the plan is – possibly the Basic Chase at Warwick will probably be an possibility once more.”
Of Le Breuil, Charlie Longsdon mentioned: “Kielan (Woods) would not understand how he stood up on the ditch – it was a mad mistake and it knocked the stuffing out of him.
“He paid the value for that one mistake, however other than that he is run a blinder and he is fairly clearly capable of bounce these fences.
“The goal can be to return again right here in April, however in the meanwhile his mark can be nowhere close to getting in and we have got a number of kilos to search out.”