Grand National 2012: Neptune Collonges Wins By Photo Finish But Race Marred By Synchronised Tragedy

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 14/04/2012 20:14 Updated: 09/05/2012 15:57

Grand National 2012
Neptune Collonges ridden by Daryl Jacob (left) races against Sunnyhillboy ridden by Richie McLernon (right)

Millions tuned in on Saturday to watch arguably one of the most tense and closely-fought Grand Nationals in history but the nail-biting race was marred by tragedy.

As Neptune Collonges won the 2012 race by a photo finish, beating Sunnyhillboy by a nostril - literally, bookies' favourite Synchronised had to be put down after a fall.

Amid the celebrations, broadcasters announced the horse was one of two to die following falls, the other being According to Pete. Organisers said a third horse Killyglen was receiving treatment but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Punters could certainly not complain the race, now in its 165th year, lacked drama.

Outsider Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob, became the first dapple-grey steed to ever win the famous steeplechase at Aintree, despite being given odds of 33/1.

Jockey Tony McCoy was thrown from the ill-fated Syncronised before even reaching the starting line. The delayed start led to over-excited horses and nervy jockeys making two false starts before the race eventually got underway.

This year's National made history for another reason; jockey Katie Walsh, 27, came closer than any other female before to claiming the coveted prize during her race debut.

She said: "He gave me an unbelievable spin.

"I was wrong a couple of times and he put me right but it is just a fantastic experience and great to get round.

"I want to go out and do it all over again."

Following the deaths of four horses during last year's Merseyside meet organisers adapted the course "significantly", reducing drops on the landing side of the numerous fences.

Julian Thick, Aintree managing director, said in the wake of Saturday's tragedies: "We are desperately sad at these two accidents. When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset."

He added safety is the "first priority" and organisers would be looking at this year's races to see how the course could be improved.

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of winner Neptune Collonges, said: "Millions of people watch the race many people get pleasure from it.

"We all knew before we came here the risks.

"The horses get looked after brilliantly but unfortunately these things do happen."

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