33-1 OUTSIDER NEPTUNE Collonges captured the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree this afternoon, overhauling an apparently insurmountable disadvatage in the closing metres to take the race by a nose over Sunnyhillboy.
A dogged performance by Daryl Jacob astride the winner ensured not only the tightest finish the event has witnessed in recent years, but effectively guaranteed the jump trainer’s championship for veteran Paul Nicholls.
Speaking immediately after the race, Nicholls was quick to hail the the winner’s pedigree:
“He’s probably the best horse we’ve run in the race. He’s got great form, he’s been placed in Gold Cups, he stays, he’s genuine and Daryl gave him a fantastic ride when you analyse where he went. It’s absolutely brilliant.
“It’s blown Nicky Henderson out of the water now!”
Joint-favourite Seabass, ridden by Katie Walsh, led the race on clearing the final fence but faded en route to the Elbow, eventually settling for a distant third place.
The race also claimed high-profile casualties in Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According to Pete, both of whom were euthanised in the wake of falls at Becher’s Brook.