David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge returns to Aintree for the William Hill Becher Chase – and what will be his ninth run over the famous Grand National fences.
Winner of the Becher Chase in 2016, the 11-year-old has completed the course every time he has turned up on Merseyside – which includes four attempts in the big race itself.
He finished sixth behind One For Arthur in 2017 and has also been second in the 2018 Becher to Walk In The Mill, who will bid for a hat-trick on Saturday.
“Vieux Lion Rouge has jumped more Grand National fences than any other horse – 202,” said Pipe.
“He’s run in four Grand Nationals, four Bechers and he lights up to the occasion – and he actually jumps those fences better than the normal park fences.
“While he’s not getting any younger, he’s in great form at home, and for both of mine the more rain the better before Saturday.”
Pipe is also set to run the fancied Ramses De Teillee, who won at Cheltenham first time out this season.
“We haven’t worked out who rides him (Vieux Lion Rouge) yet, but whoever does will no doubt be in for a wonderful ride,” Pipe added, in a call hosted by Great British Racing.
“Tom (Scudamore) will ride Ramses De Teillee after his great run at Cheltenham the other day.
“Obviously there won’t be the same amount of people as normal, but Vieux Lion Rouge knows the occasion. He knows the paddock – and once he gets shown the first fence, he knows what it is all about.
“I don’t know why he is better over these fences, but his track record tells you that he is.
“We’ve had both horses since they were four. Ramses is only eight, (and) I keep thinking he’s older than what he is – he loves soft ground, he battled well at Cheltenham and came out of that race extremely well.
“Obviously he ran in the Grand National last year – and while it said he didn’t complete what happened was at the Canal Turn second time round one of his reins broke and he did actually finish but just on one rein.
“We watched the video of the 2019 National with his owners, John White and Anne Underhill, to decide whether to come here or the Welsh National.
“He made mistakes at the third and fourth – but apart from that he jumped everything else very well, and we think it warrants having another go.
“Ramses would have to be the stronger fancy of the two – he’s going there in good form, which is why he’s running on Saturday, to strike while the iron is hot rather than wait another month (for the Welsh National), because you never know what is around the corner.”
Pipe has his own experience in the saddle over the famous fences as an amateur – having ridden Aherlow Glen for his father Martin in the 1993 Fox Hunters’.
“I stupidly rode over the fences in the Fox Hunters’ and finished nearly last,” he said.
“I had a great thrill. The tapes went up, and they went so quick I got left behind.
“There was a poor lady at the side of the rail taking pictures, which you were allowed to in those days. My dad asked her to take a picture of us – she was a complete stranger but she very kindly sent a picture in the post.”