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news Might Bite to feature at Aintree in RoR educational clinic

21st October 2022

Prior to racing getting underway at Aintree on Sunday, the former King George VI Chase winner, Might Bite, will be in action as part a training clinic organised by Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).

Renowned coach and former international event rider, Eric Smiley will conduct the clinic in the Aintree Equestrian Centre. Might Bite will be joined by two other former racehorses in a demonstration designed to help riders train their former racehorses to show jump.

In addition to winning the Christmas show piece at Kempton Park, Might Bite also won the Grade 1 RSA Chase and Aintree Bowl, as well as finishing runner-up in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup. The former Nicky Henderson trained gelding was retired from racing in 2021 to pursue a second career eventing and hunting.

Held in the indoor arena of the Aintree Equestrian Centre, the clinic will run from 11.30 to 1pm, concluding with a Q & A session with Eric Smiley. It is open to all racegoers and several riders of former racehorses registered with RoR have taken advantage of an offer from Aintree Racecourse to attend the clinic and then enjoy the afternoon’s racing on offer at the Jewson Halloween Family Day at a discounted ticket price.

Another former Aintree winner will be making an appearance once the racing gets started, as the 2016 and 2020 Becher Chase winner Vieux Lion Rouge will be paraded after the second race named in his honour – the Jewson Widnes Vieux Lion Rouge Veterans' Handicap Chase.

Trainer David Pipe still looks after Vieux Lion Rouge at his Pond House base in Somerset and the 13-year-old is something of a legend over Aintree’s iconic Grand National fences, having jumped more than any other horse. The son of Sabiango successfully negotiated the fences a record 254 times during his 10-year racing career, a run which included a remarkable 242 fences being navigated in a row.

Vieux Lion Rouge will travel up with his Pond House stablemates before being given star treatment, parading before the race and being on hand to join in with the presentation afterwards.

Sulekha Varma, who is Clerk of the Course at Aintree and serves as the Head of Racing for Jockey Club North West, revealed her delight at being able to host the horses at the weekend.

She said: “There are lots of small elements which makes racing so great, but we all know that the real stars of the show are the horses themselves and it’s wonderful to be able to have some greats of the game at Aintree on Sunday.

“The fantastic thing about Jump racing is the fact that the horses generally have a longer career than their Flat counterparts, meaning that fans of the sport are able to build up an affinity with them over several years – and they are always given a fantastic welcome by racegoers when they return to their old stomping grounds.

“RoR is a fantastic charity which does some amazing work and they show that while a horse’s racing career may be over, they still have so much to offer. Sunday’s showcase will feature some household names alongside some slightly less-known names and while Might Bite is undoubtedly the star attraction, it should show that racehorses make wonderful companions and are highly skilled when it comes to the Equestrian side of things.

“We’re also thrilled to be able to welcome Vieux Lion Rouge back to Aintree. With his remarkable record of two victories in the Becher Chase and four completions of the Grand National course, it’s pretty safe to say that there is no horse with a record that can stand up to his and I’m sure he’ll get a warm welcome from everyone who’s coming racing on Sunday.

“I believe that this will be his first day out since his retirement and he will be travelling up with his stablemates from David Pipe’s yard in Somerset. So while we have plenty planned in terms of honouring him on the day, a lot will all depend on whether he can resist getting too excited on the day!”

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