04/14/2012 12:39PM

Grand National: 33-1 shot wins 4 1/2-mile jump race by a nose


Neptune Collonges won Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree Racecourse in England by a nose over Sunnyhillboy, a race marred by the deaths of two runners, including favored Synchronised, the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.

Synchronised fell at Becher’s Brook, the toughest fence in the 4 1/2-mile race, on the first of two circuits. Another runner, According to Pete, fell at Becher’s on the second circuit and could not be saved.

Synchronised, the mount of leading British steeplechase rider A.P. McCoy, was trying to become the first Gold Cup winner since Golden Miller in 1934 to win the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year. Synchronised was owned by J.P. McManus, who also owns Sunnyhillboy.

Neptune Collonges, a 33-1 outsider ridden by Daryl Jacob for trainer Paul Nicholls, ended a six-race losing streak in the National. An 11-year-old French-bred owned by Englishman John Hales, his margin of victory in Saturday’s race was the closest in the history of the race, first run in 1839.

Hales said after the race that Neptune Collonges would be retired.

Seabass, ridden by Katie Walsh, finished third as the 8-1 co-favorite with Synchronised. Ballabriggs, the defending champion, finished sixth.

Only 15 of the 40 starters finished, with many being pulled up or falling in the 29-fence race. One fence was omitted on the second circuit while ambulance personnel attended to a fallen rider.