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Can Vieux Lion Rouge Buck The Grand National Trend?
Monday 3rd April 2017

Aintree Grand National 2013Credit: Sporting Life via Twitter.

All eyes will be on Aintree on April 8 for the Grand National, with Vieux Lion Rouge widely tipped to secure the win at the most prestigious race on the calendar.

The French horse is the leading competitor to claim victory at the meet following an impressive run of recent form.

Vieux Lion Rouge has won his last two races, including at Aintree at the end of last year in the Becher Handicap Chase, defeating The Last Samuri in the process.

As a result of that performance and his victory at Haydock Park in February, the chestnut gelding is backed in the latest bet365 horse racing betting odds at 10/1 to win the Grand National.

However, horses that have been favoured in the past have not always gone on to achieve greatness in the race. The last leading contender to secure the crown was seven years ago in the 2010 meet when Don’t Push It – jockeyed by AP McCoy – triumphed at Aintree.

Since then, there have been major disappointments for the majority of the pre-race favourites, where they've failed to even place in the top three.

The Midnight Club began the trend in 2011 with Ruby Walsh in the saddle. The Irish horse came into the race with a win under his belt at the Bobbyjo Chase six weeks before the event.

However, he failed to rise to the occasion, finishing in sixth place following an early mistake. Relative outsider BallaBriggs won the race with a strong run down the stretch, even beating out Don’t Push It.

Sychronised was the much-fancied runner in the 2012 race, having triumphed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His race was to end in tragedy, however, after a fall at Becher’s Brook and once again at the 11th, where he sustained a leg fracture.

The injury was so severe that the bay gelding was euthanised, ending an outstanding career. Once again an outsider, in the form Neptune Collonges, won the race with a flawless performance.

Aintree Grand National 2013"Aintree Grand National 2013" (CC BY 2.0) by stacey.cavanagh

If that result was a surprise then the 2013 race was a complete stunner. Not many punters would have given Auroras Encore even the slimmest of hopes of winning the race, with odds in the 60s. However, the 11-year-old came through the field to claim a staggering victory.

Leighton Apsell enjoyed success in back-to-back years – first on the back of Pineau de Rea, finishing five lengths ahead of the rest of the field, including one of the joint favourites Double Seven. The other leading candidate before the meet, Teaforthree, fell at The Chair.

His second win came on Many Clouds, with McCoy failing to match the speed of the horse on favourite Shutthefrontdoor, trailing in behind in fifth place.

Last year produced another stunner, as Rule The World tore through the final stretch to win by a comfortable margin, leaving one of the leading contenders The Last Samuri in its wake, while Many Clouds was unable to conjure a back-to-back triumph, finishing all the way back in 16th.
As proven, there are no sure things in the world of horse racing, and although Vieux Lion Rouge has been in impressive form in his last outings, the Grand National takes no prisoners and delights in producing a surprising spectacle.

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