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A look back at the 2012 Grand National

Posted on | April 9, 2018 | No Comments

With the most popular horse race in the world fast approaching, anticipation is continuing to build. Many people are looking for the Grand National odds for Saturday with the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall now heading the betting as the 10/1 clear favourite. The race looks as competitive as ever with many key contenders such as last year’s fourth Blaklion, Gold Cup third Anibale Fly and the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase winner Tiger Roll. All three horses look tailor-made for the race and bring in top class form.

The race has showcased some stunning performances over the years with many of them living long in the memory for racing fans. Whether it be the early days of the dominating era of five-time winning jockey George Stevens, in the mid-19th century, or the stunning performance from the mighty Golden Miller in 1934 who became the first and only horse to win the National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year. A Grand National article could not be written without mentioning the greatest of the all in Red Rum who is the only three time winner of the race and amazingly also finished second in two other attempts. Blaklion’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has been echoing the horse’s similarities to Red Rum so this could be a focus for many looking for top tips for Grand National.

However, looking to more recent times, one race that provided one of the most stunning finisheswas the 2012 Grand National. Going into the contest the race looked to be as competitive as ever with joint 8/1 favourites in Seabass and Shakalakaboomboom and the 2011 winner in Ballabriggs at 12/1. The eventual winner was Neptune Collonges who entered the race as the 33/1 outsider for trainer Paul Nicholls. He carried a huge weight of 11 stone 6lb to victory and became just the fifth horse to win off 11 stone or more in the last 23 years.

This was another key indicator of how the change to the way the weights are awarded for the contesthas had such a positive effect on the race. This has meant that the superior horses are contesting the race and have more chance of winning when they are not having to give vast amounts of weight away to the rest of the field. Neptune Collonges certainly fits the bill as a classy horse as he finished his career with 16 victoriesfrom his 36 starts under rules. This included a third place finish in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup behind legends Denman and Kauto Star and then a fourth place finish in the 2009 running of that same race behind the same two previously mentioned stars.

Neptune entered the race following several improving efforts throughout the season and a second in the Grand National trial at Haydock. The 2012 National finished in a time of 9 minutes and 5.1 seconds showing the race was run at a good gallop. Both Neptune Collonges and the eventual second Sunnyhillboy sat in mid division with the Henderson-trained joint favourite Shakalakaboomboom making much of the running. Neptune was continuing to be pushed along even with several fences still to jump as eight horses went clear of the rest of the field,however Neptune continued to find for rider Daryl Jacob. Sunnyhillboy took up the race approaching the last and jumped it just in front of the gallant Seabass with Neptune continuing to battle and coming in third. As they came around the elbow Sunnyhillboy put two lengths between himself and Neptune Collonges which looked to be a race winning moveas Seabass began to paddle.

With 150 yards to go the deficit was still two lengths as Sunnyhillboy looked set to land the Grand National for the famous team of trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus. Neptune was still battling and, with the finishing post fast approaching, the grey began to get alongside, producing a head bobbing finish to the race. This provided one of the most stunning and memorable finishes to the race and connections had a long wait as the close photo finish was decided. The result was called and Neptune Collonges became the first winner of the race for trainer Paul Nicholls with his 52nd runner. The scenes of celebration following the result from connections were memorable and owner John Hales was remembered for his emotional tribute to the horse both prior to the race and following it as he was retired on the spot after this victory.

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