National plan for Lion Rouge
David Pipe is likely to give leading Randox Health Grand National contender Vieux Lion Rouge just one more outing ahead of a second shot at the marathon contest.
Vieux Lion Rouge could have one more run before Aintree
The Nicholashayne handler will sit tight with the eight-year-old until the release of the weights for the Aintree marathon on February 14 before making a final decision on where that prep run will take place.
After finishing seventh in the world famous Grade Three handicap last year, Vieux Lion Rouge made a successful return to the Merseyside track in December to land the Becher Chase on his only start so far this season.
The form of that victory was subsequently given a significant boost by the victory of fifth-placed One For Arthur in the Classic Chase at Warwick.
Pipe said: "He will probably have one run before Aintree. I don't think he will run before the weights come out. He will still be borderline to get into the race.
"He is rated 146 but in all these handicaps the bottom mark is going up, whether it is Cheltenham or Aintree.
"He seems to be finishing his races better of late as he has not always finished his races that well. He really saw it out well in the Becher. He is definitely getting stronger.
"He jumps them (Aintree fences) better than park fences. When we bought him as an unraced three-year-old I didn't think he would be running in the Grand National, but these things happen, thank goodness."