Collonges claims dramatic National14/04/2012 - 16:44:44
Neptune Collonges gave champion trainer Paul Nicholls his first John Smith’s Grand National winner when getting up on the line to beat Sunnyhillboy in an incident-packed race at Aintree.
Ridden by Daryl Jacob, the 33-1 shot looked booked for minor honours rounding the famous Elbow, with Jonjo O’Neill’s Sunnyhillboy holding a clear lead.
But as the line approached, the grey Neptune Collonges lunged late to land the honours by a nose.
A clearly overcome Jacob said: "You can't beat this. I was on a tough horse and I said to Paul that one day I would ride you a National winner. That was two years ago and now I’ve done it.”
There were anxious moments before the start of the race as Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sunnyhillboy unshipped Tony McCoy and ran loose for a short period.
The partnership was back intact before the off, but the pair only made it as far as Becher’s Brook, the sixth fence.
Katie Walsh had every chance of becoming the first female winner of the race soon after the turn for home, having had a great spin off Seabass, but he did not finish off his race as well as the first two and had to make to with an honourable third.
Richie McLernon looked to have the race won on Sunnyhillboy, winner of the Kim Muir Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, but the pair were denied in the final stride. Cappa Bleu was a gallant fourth.
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