Neptune Collonges wins on a grey day for National
Neptune Collonges won the Grand National at Aintree racecourse yesterday to become the first grey to win the race since Nicolaus Silver in 1961.
The Daryl Jacobs-ridden 33-1 Neptune Collonges, who succeeded where trainer Paul Nicholls’s previous 52 runners had failed, beat home Sunnyhillboy (16/1) in a thrilling finish which saw the winner reel in the runner-up in the final furlong and win by just a nose.
However, the race was overshadowed by the deaths of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, who fell at Bechers first time round, and According to Pete, who came down at Bechers on the second circuit.
The authorities had actually modified Bechers after a couple of runners died there last year and for Synchronised’s trainer Jonjo O’Neill it brought back the awful memory of when he rode then Gold Cup winner Alverton in the National and came to grief at Bechers and was put down in 1979.
For 27-year-old Jacobs it was an emotional win as he had contemplated retiring from the sport when his best friend Kieran Kelly was killed in a riding accident in 2003.
Indeed the Irishman, on hearing he had prevailed in a stewards enquiry, pointed to the heavens, saluting his dead friend.
“I owe everything to Kieran,” said Jacobs. “But I always said to Paul Nicholls that I would ride a National winner for him and I have delivered,” he added.
Nicholls said it surpassed any other race that he had won including the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“This is the race to win and it is unbelievable. The winner I always believed in because he has the class and the stamina,” he said.
The 8/1 joint favourite Seabass came in third under Katie Walsh – the best ever finish by a female jockey – and Cappa Bleu fourth in an incident-packed race that saw Synchronised dump Tony McCoy before the start.