Tom Scudamore paid handsome tribute to popular staying chaser Vieux Lion Rouge, who has been retired after a successful career spanning 10 years.
Trainer David Pipe has called time on the 13-year-old’s racing days after he was pulled up in the Last Fling Handicap Chase at Haydock last week.
Vieux Lion Rouge was a standing dish at Aintree where he won the Becher Chase twice in six attempts and made five appearances in the Grand National with a best-placed sixth in 2017.
“He’s been a fantastic servant to the yard, to Caroline (Tisdall), to John (Gent, owners) and David (Pipe) and myself,” Scudamore told Sky Sports Racing.
“He gave us so many happy days and it was extraordinary to think that the big gangly three-year-old I won a bumper on over a mile and a half at Newbury went on to achieve what he did.
“The funny thing with him was that he wasn’t a natural jumper. Over hurdles he was a bit awkward and over fences to begin with you wouldn’t have put him down as a National horse.
“He actually ran in the National as a novice the first time. I remember schooling him over the National fences and he was just awesome – but I was dreading it a little bit if I’m honest as he wasn’t a natural but they made a man of him and he never looked back – he was such an intelligent horse.
“Caroline is a great supporter of National Hunt racing and the Grand National so for Vieux to come along so early was great for her and John.
“I think he holds the record for most Grand National fences jumped and I won more races (11) on him than any other horse so he holds a special place in my heart.”
Vieux Lion Rouge won 13 of his 41 starts and earned £344,777 in prize money in a career that began in December 2012.