Vieux Lion Rouge wasn’t exactly struggling for support ahead of this year’s Grand National and in landing Haydock’s trial contest he’s attracted even more fans.
The bookies appear to be keen on his chances too with the David Pipe-trained eight-year-old now the outright 12/1 favourite for the Aintree spectacular.
Last Saturday’s big race winner had already won over the National fences back in November and this latest victory has only further strengthened what look like rock-solid claims.
Added to that, Pipe’s charge finished seventh in last year’s Aintree renewal and connections will now be feeling confident that their entrant can give an even better account of himself on April 8.
However, Vieux Lion Rouge didn’t have it all his own way on Merseyside with Grand National Trial favourite Blaklion challenging the eventual winner in a thrilling battle to the line.
And trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies wasn’t too downbeat in defeat. He said after the race: “If he wins the National we’ll forget he came second here.”
Ian Williams’ 11-year-old veteran led until headed three out at Haydock while fellow National entrant Vicente could only finish last of the nine horses that completed the course.
Held-up by jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, the 33/1 Grand National fancy failed to land a blow on Saturday afternoon.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing