Betfred Becher Chase
Grade 3 Handicap,
National Course, Aintree 13:35
£140,000 added, 6yo plus,
3m 1f 188y, Class 1   entries
Saturday 3rd December 2016

1 Vieux Lion Rouge 8/1F
2 Highland Lodge 20/1
3 The Last Samuri 9/1
4 Ucello Conti 11/1
NR: Double Ross (IRE), Gas Line Boy (IRE)
22 ran Distances: shd, 1l, 1½l
TIME 6m 51.10s (slow by 13.10s)

Vieux Lion Rouge roars to land Becher thriller

Vieux Lion Rouge
© Racehorse Photos
Vieux Lion Rouge

Highland Lodge was always prominent and looked like becoming the first horse to take this race two years in a row, but Tom Scudamore and Vieux Lion Rouge sneaked up the rail to snatch the spoils.

It was tough luck on Highland Lodge's connections, particularly jockey Henry Brooke who has only recently returned to action after suffering injuries that left him in an induced coma less than two months ago.

Beeves and Highland Lodge cut out the running and the latter kept on gamely as the race hotted up after the third-last fence.

The Jimmy Moffatt-trained Highland Lodge landed in front over the last and only gave way close to the line as Vieux Lion Rouge, the 8/1 favourite, claimed the prize over the Grand National fences for the David Pipe team.

Highland Lodge was a length ahead of National runner-up The Last Samuri in third place, with Ucello Conti fourth.

There was early drama with Saint Are and Ziga Boy coming down at the first fence, while Alvarado and Cogry exited at the second. Other casualties included Milborough, Dare To Endeavour and The Young Master.

Pipe said: "This has obviously been the plan for a while, but I wasn't sure he was going to get there.

"Once Scu bagged the rail at the elbow then I felt like he'd get up and he responded well.

"He ran a brilliant race in the National (seventh) but he's only seven and he didn't quite get home, he's a stronger horse now.

"He seems to respect the National fences more than park fences and we needed him to win a race to be high enough to get back in the National.

"Now we need to decide if he runs again, because if he loses you run the risk of his mark dropping. It might be that he doesn't run again."

Pipe went on: "Scu was insistent that if he was in with a chance he needed to be on the rail at the elbow and it paid off.

"Usually he needs it very soft but he has form on all sorts of ground.

"I'm not really a shouter when I watch, but there's just something about the National fences that makes it that bit more exciting."

Scudamore added: "He hasn't been the strongest in a finish in the past, but I think he's just a stronger horse now.

"I've won the Grand Sefton before so to win another over these fences is great, it's always emotional for us as a family because of Grandad and Oxo."

A dignified Moffatt said of Highland Lodge: "I couldn't be more pleased. He's done everything right, we had him fit enough but he's just been nailed. Congratulations to the connections of the winner."

Brooke said: "I think I was in front too long.

"It was brilliant, he loves it here and just comes alive, I'm just sorry we couldn't hold on."

Sky Bet went 25/1 from 50s about the winner for the Grand National, a race in which he was seventh back in April.

Spokesman Michael Shinners said: "The handicapper will have his say but Vieux Lion Rouge showed his ability to act on the unique track once again and he stayed on nicely today with the National in mind. There's no doubt he'll be trained for the race."

Betfred Becher Handicap Chase
(Grade 3) (National Course)
£140,000 added, 6yo plus, 3m 1f 188y, Class 1
22 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 8/1f T Scudamore
10-9
D Pipe 7
2nd s.h Highland Lodge (IRE) 20/1 Henry Brooke
10-4
James Moffatt 10
3rd 1 The Last Samuri (IRE) 9/1 B Hughes
11-12
K C Bailey 8
4th Ucello Conti (FR) 11/1 D A Jacob
11-1
G Elliott 8
5th nk One For Arthur (IRE) 14/1 D R Fox
10-4
Miss Lucinda V Russell 7
6th 13 Portrait King (IRE) 25/1 C O'Farrell
10-0
P Griffin 11
7th 8 Bob Ford (IRE) 20/1 Jonathan Moore (3)
10-2
Miss R Curtis 9
8th 7 Beeves (IRE) 33/1 Sean Quinlan
10-4
Jennie Candlish 9
9th 16 Midnight Prayer 25/1 Wayne Hutchinson
10-5
A King 11
10th 12 Rogue Angel (IRE) 22/1 G N Fox (3)
10-12
M F Morris 8
11th 19 Financial Climate (IRE) 66/1 Thomas Garner (3)
10-0
O Sherwood 9
12th 17 Viconte Du Noyer (FR) 10/1 Aidan Coleman
11-7
C L Tizzard 7
13th 53 Silvergrove 12/1 Conor Shoemark
10-5
B Pauling 8
PU Aachen 33/1 L Treadwell
11-1
Miss V Williams 12
F The Young Master 10/1 Mr S Waley-Cohen (3)
11-3
N P Mulholland 7
F Saint Are (FR) 14/1 B P Harding
11-0
T R George 10
F Sizing Coal (IRE) 16/1 M A Enright
10-3
J T R Dreaper 8
F Alvarado (IRE) 10/1 Paul Moloney
10-2
F O'Brien 11
UR Ziga Boy (FR) 16/1 Thomas Bellamy
10-4
A King 7
UR Milborough (IRE) 33/1 Craig Nichol
10-2
I A Duncan 10
UR Dare To Endeavour 18/1 Harry Skelton
10-2
E McNamara 9
UR Cogry 12/1 Ryan Hatch
10-1
N A Twiston-Davies 7
NR Double Ross (IRE) 20/1 Jamie Bargary (3)
11-2
N A Twiston-Davies 10
NR Gas Line Boy (IRE) 14/1 Non Runner
10-3
Ian Williams 10

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