Vieux Lion Rouge overhauled Highland Lodge in the final stages to win a thrilling Betfred Becher Chase on the Grand National course at Aintree.
The 8-1 favourite, ridden by Tom Scudamore and trained by David Pipe, came off the last jump behind but edged past the 2015 champion.
Highland Lodge, under Henry Brooke, was bidding to become the first back-to-back winner of the race.
The 2016 Grand National runner-up, The Last Samuri, finished third.
Elsewhere, the Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux held off Sire De Grugy to claim the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
The eight-year-old looked to have squandered the lead only to rally under jockey Ruby Walsh and deny Sire De Grugy a record-equalling third Tingle Creek victory.
Cornelius Lysaght, BBC horse racing correspondent
It will be one of those races remembered more for the near-miss defeat than the victory.
Of course, Vieux Lion Rouge did well, but the principal memory will be of Highland Lodge and his jockey Henry Brooke in second.
Last year's winner, right up there throughout, looked all set to become the first to be successful in back-to-back stagings - and give his rider a fairytale return from serious injury - before being caught close to the finish.
The first two and third-placed The Last Samuri, gallant under a big weight, are all set to re-oppose in the 2017 Grand National on 8 April.
Another set to be there is Many Clouds, the 2015 winner, who impressed in winning the Listed Chase, also at Aintree on Saturday.