Deaths mar Grand National

2012-04-14 20:01

Aintree - Neptune Collonges won the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, but the famous race ended in tragedy with the deaths of two horses, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised.

Neptune Collonges, a 33-1 shot, was the first grey to win the race since Nicolaus Silver in 1961.

The Daryl Jacobs-ridden horse, who succeeded where trainer Paul Nicholls's previous 52 runners had failed, beat home Sunnyhillboy (16/1) in a thrilling finish to win by a nose.

However, the race was overshadowed by the deaths of Synchronised, who fell at Bechers first time round, and According to Pete, who came down at Bechers on the second circuit.

Two horses had been killed in the 2011 race.

"When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset. Safety is the first priority for the organisers and we make every effort to ensure that everyone involved in the event is able to participate in safety," said Aintree managing director Julian Thick.

"Since last year's race we have made further significant changes to the course and there have been four races run over the course without serious incident since then.

"After today, we will, as always, be looking at all aspects of this year's race to see how we can improve safety further."

The authorities had modified Bechers after two runners died there last year.

For Synchronised's trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, it brought back the awful memory of when he rode Gold Cup winner Alverton in the 1979 National and came to grief at Bechers. Alverton was also put down.

Animal welfare campaigners blasted Saturday's race as "the worst kind of mob entertainment".

"The Grand National is a disgusting and shameful spectacle masquerading as sport," said Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid.

"For anyone who genuinely cares about horses watching this race was an utterly depressing and melancholy experience."

Away from the controversy, 27-year-old Jacobs was celebrating an emotional win.

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 Jacob. "But I always said to Paul Nicholls that I would ride a National winner for him and I have delivered."

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 had also seen Synchronised dump Tony McCoy before the start.

Sadly, as it transpired, they were reunited and O'Neill was to suffer further heartache as Sunnyhill Boy saw glory snatched on the line.

Synchronised was the third of the fancied runners not to make it past the first six fences as both Junior and another grey, West End Rocker, had gone at the fourth and the field were taken along by the heavily-backed Shakalakaboomboom and Planet of Sound.

That duo exchanged the lead virtually till the business end of the race where Walsh came alongside them looking as if she could become the first woman to ride the winner of the race.

However, just as Shakalakaboomboom and Planet of Sound faded so Sunnyhillboy arrived looking as if he was coasting under Richie Mclernon while Neptune Collonges was still looking good for just a place.

Over the last and Mclernon went clear of Seabass but then Jacob conjured up a stunning bust of pace from Neptune Collonges.

Mclernon looked to have held him off but inch by inch Jacob got closer and on the line had done just enough to get his nose in front.

Walsh was delighted with her performance.

"I was never going to win it, but he gave me a fantastic ride and I feel so pumped up that I want to get back here as soon as possible," said the 27-year-old.

It wasn't a happy day for her brother Ruby, as the two-time winning National rider had to stand down from the race for the second time in three runnings because of a heavy fall he took earlier on the card.


  • Anthony - 2012-04-14 20:09

    one of the cruelest "sports" in the world. every year horses are injured or killed. POMMIES SUCK!

      frank.hartry - 2012-04-14 20:46

      Don't blame the so called 'pommies'. You will find that there will be many comments similar to your first sentence from British readers in all of the Sunday UK newspapers.

      Jim - 2012-04-14 21:00

      Thats a very deep, profound if somewhat cryptic comment Ant.......

      Louis - 2012-04-15 08:29

      This race must be banned. It is so cruel. it's the rich that benefit. THey should take the two jockies and put them to death as well, just to see what it's like. Those poor animals. But then again it's the Phoms. Just take a peak at their Bullsh.t history channel. so biased and full of untruths.

      Ingi - 2012-04-15 10:55

      This is the worst kind of mob entertainment". The Grand National is a disgusting and shameful spectacle masquerading as sport," For anyone who genuinely cares about horses watching this race was an utterly depressing and melancholy experience. How dare all those POMS, those cruel 'sporting' people allow this to happen year after year!!! !It's a disgrace!!!!

      joneethling - 2012-04-15 12:25

      Sick savages.

      Staal - 2012-04-15 19:15

      Uhh... we have horse races/events etc in South Africa every year. They are quite popular or do you live in a box? Many countries have equine events. So not sure how this is the fault of "the pommies". Don't get me wrong, I like having a go at "the pommies" about quite a few things, but the Grand National is most definitely not one of them.

  • Smell - 2012-04-14 20:28

    The horses probably do not even have a clue why they are flogged though such an arduous and dangerous spectacle. I do not necessarily have a problem with horse racing. But an event that put the horses life and limb at risk is disgusting, despite the rich tradition of the Grand National. You either get it or you don't.

  • Ian - 2012-04-14 20:32

    once again animals suffer because this human races greed, disgusting

  • Jill - 2012-04-14 21:31

    Sure is disgusting - humans making money out of animals and killing them along the way

      Anthony - 2012-04-14 22:58


      Staal - 2012-04-15 20:09

      Are you people for real? "killing them along the way"... what sensationalist BS. Maybe if you commented on course safety you muppets could be taken seriously. Instead every other one of you wants to the morally superior one. Blind and self righteous.

  • Deon - 2012-04-14 21:38

    I just watched the race and think it is disgusting. Where money flow the eyes go blind. Sies

      James - 2012-04-14 22:29

      Presies Deon

  • James - 2012-04-14 22:11

    Such a stupid race. I don't have a problem with horse racing, but these damn hedge jumping races are obviously an accident waiting to happen, especially if the race is 7km+...

  • Amanda-Leigh - 2012-04-15 08:44

    Racing at breakneck speed jumping huge fences with ditches and drops, and they call this a SPORT??? this is nothing more than legalised animal abuse! Out of a starting field of 40 horses less than 20 completed the race, if those were the odds in an eventing or showjumping competition there would be a huge furore. In this race it is not IF a horse will die, but how many. Why don't they just add a couple of foxes and hounds for good measure, blood sport!

  • Koos - 2012-04-15 09:51

    Glad Apartheid is not to blame for this.

      Staal - 2012-04-15 20:02

      Give it time.

  • Helen - 2012-04-15 11:08

    I love all horses and detest cruelty however do any of you guys bother about horses inbetween the running of the National? i bet most dont! Does anyone bother at all that 60,000 stressed, injured and diseased horses crammed into lorries, travelling thousdands of miles without, or with minimal food and water each year from England into Europe. Exhausted, diseased, injured and desperate for food and water!! If you really care and not just 'jumping on the band waggon each year the National occurs' then look wider and go to and really make a difference to many

  • Rachel - 2012-04-15 12:03

    this is the most disgusting and horrific waste of horses lives ...... in the name of entertainment ..... really is it entertaining to watch animals suffer and die ?

      Staal - 2012-04-15 20:03

      lol wtf... get a grip Racing horses have far better lives than the ones living in the wild. Safe from predators, always fed/watered/groomed. Is it better for them to die in agony of thirst when there is a drought? Or what if they break their leg in the wild? ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL!

  • Rachel - 2012-04-15 12:06

    too many horses, too far to run and too high to jump ....... a recipe for injury and death and the BBC broadcast it as entertainment ......... it sickens me every year ..... and anyone who supports this by betting has the blood of those horses on their hands as much as the trainers and owners that entered them ........

  • Bruce - 2012-04-15 12:38

    This is animal abuse!

  • gailcarolynhayes - 2012-04-15 13:49

    This is just plain sad for everyone who loves horses and animals including those who support it. Once can only hope that more is done to prevent a third year in a row from suffering a smilar tragedy. The riders of those two horses and their owners are probably equally gutted by what happened. The horses are no longer suffering for mankind.

      Staal - 2012-04-15 20:04

      You know if you muppets commented on increased course safety you might have a point. But every other band-wagoner on here is on about how the sport is cruel, period. Wool for brains I say.

  • Staal - 2012-04-15 19:36

    Oh my god. I have not seen more ignorant, self-righteous muppets in one place... oh wait... I have; I just have to look around the streets of any town/city in the Western world. Have you lot all become vegetarians as well? Poor cows, pigs. Accidents happen. Let a bunch of horses run around in the wild and a few will stumble and break their legs. Should we rather just shoot them all and end their suffering? Those horses are very well taken care of. Why don't we just take down all electricity cables as they hundreds of birds every year. How about hunting for just about any type of antelope you can think of? Oh, what is that? Good I idea you say? Ok, well then I suppose all the money that hunting generates won't be used to make the actual farms that house them commercially viable. What about the fishes in the sea? Close all seafood restaurants. The Poms won't mind anyway because their seafood sucks ass compared to SA's. I despair for the future when I read the comments on these articles. Brain-dead, band-wagon jumping muppets everywhere just frothing at the mouth to indicate how morally superior they are by condemning whatever new fad comes up.

      Staal - 2012-04-15 19:40

      No. I have a better idea. Let us just all kill ourselves. Then no animal will ever be bothered by a human again. Because somehow it is better for an antelope to have its guts shredded by hyenas while its still alive than a horse having its leg broken. ARGH!

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