Trainer David Pipe always throws up one or two very interesting Grand National prospects. In recent years he has had the good fortune of being able to run the very classy Vieux Lion Rouge with mixed results. Remarkably Vieux Lion Rouge has run in all four of the last Grand National renewals and could very well be on the path to a fifth.
Vieux Lion Rouge
In 2016 he finished in seventh place to the winner Rule The World. The following year, he went one place better and landed in sixth spot behind One For Arthur. Another year older and wiser in 2018 and he took on Tiger Roll but could only manage ninth spot.
By 2019, despite his vast experience in the race, his odds dropped as low as 50/1 as he once again took on the mighty Tiger Roll. However, it was not to be for Vieux Lion Rouge who did get around the course but recorded his worst result, finishing in 15th spot.
So as the new season gets underway and plans get made, will we see the old red lion roaring again at Aintree? Yes and no. Yes because David Pipe plans to aim him at the Becher Chase. No, because he may swerve the Grand National 2020.
Speaking to Sporting Life, Pipe said: “He’ll probably end up on the Grand National trail again.
“I’d say one of his main aims would be the veterans’ final at Sandown. Unfortunately, the National trip just stretches him.
“I think he’s better than ever but I thought that last year and he didn’t quite perform.
“He might run in the Becher again as he was second in it last year from a higher mark.”
Since then Vieux Lion Rouge has made his seasonal reappearance in fine style. He headed to Chepstow for the Veterans’ Handicap Chase and promptly won it. He beat out the Evan Williams-trained On Tour by a neck. Next on the cards is the Becher Chase and then Sandown in January. But don’t be surprised if he gets another entry for the Grand National, even if it is only to keep options open.
Ramses De Teillee
Hopes were high for his second Grand National entry, Ramses De Teillee when he ran in April. Despite being just seven years old, he had already proved himself a steady stayer when finishing second in the Coral Welsh National a few months earlier.
But the Grand National is not particularly kind to seven years old. The last one to win was Bogskar in 1940 so Ramses was going to have to defy a lot of history. Unfortunately, the race proved too much and he was pulled up.
Though it wasn’t all bad news. Ramses De Teillee made a blunder at the 23rd and then his rein broke so jockey David Noonan wasn’t left with much choice. On another day, the result could have been very different.
So will David Pipe take him back to Aintree in April 2020? Firstly he has his sights set on the Welsh National. He said: “They’ve changed the distance of the Welsh National this year as they’ve moved the start back a bit in a bid to help.
“So I think it’s up a furlong and a half to three miles, seven furlongs. But he’ll probably get an entry.”
Other options that have presented themselves include the possibility of going hurdling. Pipe added: “What we’re thinking in that he might go novice hurdling this year.
“You never have an easy race from his sort of chase rating so why not go for a couple of easier races over hurdles?
“He’s still a nice over hurdles and you never know we might even consider taking him over to France.”
Another option for David Pipe could be Daklondike. He’s a handy chaser who has one four of his ten chase starts and will be eight years old by the time the Grand National 2020 rolls around.
That said, last season wasn’t particularly great for him. He won one from four starts however, the other three included refusing to race, unseating his jockey and getting pulled-up.
He started this season in better form and could be a potential National runner. But, as of now, nothing is set in stone.