Betfred Grand National Trial
Grade 3 Handicap Chase
Haydock Park 15:15
£75,000 added, 5yo plus,
3m 4f 97y, Class 1   
Saturday 18th February 2017

1 Vieux Lion Rouge 8/1
2 Blaklion 7/2F
3 Vintage Clouds 5/1
13 ran NR: Doctor Harper Distances: 3¼l, 18l, 3½l
Time: 7m 25.10s (slow by 5.10s)

Vieux Lion Rouge gets the better of Blaklion

Vieux Lion Rouge
© Racehorse Photos
Vieux Lion Rouge

Vieux Lion Rouge got the better of a sustained duel with Blaklion to win the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park.

The pair were the only two in contention in the three and a half mile chase in the straight and the lead changed hands several times in the lead to the last.

William Twiston-Davies switched the eventual second off the rail to try and launch a renewed challenge going in to that obstacles and the top-weight, and 7/2 favourite, responded gamely.

However, the concession of 6lbs proved too much for last year's RSA Chase winner who was over three lengths adrift at the line with the pair 18 lengths clear of Vintage Clouds in third.

Vieux Lion Rouge was having his first start since winning the Becher Chase over the famous Grand National fences in November and he is now set to return to Aintree for the Randox Health sponsored marathon in April.

Sky Bet, who are paying five places on the Grand National, cut the winner to 10/1 favourite from 25s and trainer David Pipe is hopeful of a big run in the famous steeplechase.

"He's changed a lot, as he never used to find much at the end of his races," he said. "As a French horse he's quite a late maturer, running in the National last season made a man of him.

"I wasn't confident he was going to win as it's a long straight and Tom wasn't sure what he had left.

"He's going back to Aintree with experience over the fences and he proved today he doesn't need soft ground.

"We can look forward to April now."

Echoing the view of his trainer, Scudamore said: "He never used to finish off his races, but running in the National as a novice made a man of him.

"He was foot-perfect in the Becher and was foot-perfect today. He wasn't the greatest jumper before he ran in the National last year.

"We can head to the National now with confidence and a few pounds up our sleeves, we hope."

Betfred Grand National Trial
£75,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 4f 97y, Class 1
13 ran
Going: Good to Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 8/1 T Scudamore
11-6
D Pipe 8
2nd Blaklion 7/2f William Twiston-Davies
11-12
N A Twiston-Davies 8
3rd 18 Vintage Clouds (IRE) 5/1 B Hughes
10-10
Mrs S J Smith 7
4th Gas Line Boy (IRE) 12/1 A P Heskin
11-4
Ian Williams 11
5th Cresswell Breeze 14/1 David Noonan (3)
10-6
A J Honeyball 7
6th 5 Kruzhlinin (GER) 11/1 T J O'Brien
11-6
P J Hobbs 10
7th 6 Warrantor (IRE) 16/1 G Sheehan
10-9
W Greatrex 8
8th 8 Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 14/1 Charlie Deutsch (3)
11-9
Miss V Williams 10
9th Vicente (FR) 10/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
11-7
P F Nicholls 8
PU Wakanda (IRE) 9/1 Danny Cook
11-10
Mrs S J Smith 8
PU Tour Des Champs (FR) 25/1 R T Dunne
11-2
S Drinkwater 10
PU Goodtoknow (ex5) 10/1 Jake Greenall
11-2
Kerry Lee 9
PU Aqalim 40/1 Alan Johns (3)
10-11
Tim Vaughan 7
NR Doctor Harper (IRE) 14/1 Non Runner
11-3
D Pipe 9