After a grueling 4 1/2 mile race, you just don’t expect there to be such a close finish. Yesterday, Neptune Collonges edged out Sunnyhillboy by a nose after surging from behind with an amazing run down the home stretch. It was the closest finish in a Grand National.
The 11-year old French-bred Thoroughbred was a 33-1 long shot in the race.
I can’t embed the video of the race but you can watch it from this link.
Sadly, two horses fractured legs during the Grand National and were put down after the race: Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According to Pete. Both horses fractured legs. This is the second consecutive year where two horses have died as the result of injuries sustained during the race, causing many to call for the race to be banned. In the case of Synchronised, he lost his jockey before the start, but was checked out and cleared to run. The jockey remounted but the pair fell at the sixth fence. Synchronised continued riderless and was injured at the 11th fence. According to Pete fell the second time the field came to Becher’s Brook when On His Own fell in front of him.
Neptune Collonges Retired
The Grand National was always to be Neptune Collonges last race and the horse was retired immediately after the race. You can listen to owner John Hales interviewed before the race in the video below. For Hales, running a horse in the Grand National is an emotional decision as the family lost a horse at the meet in 1998. I think the interview gives some insight into the conflict over the safety of the race coupled with the desire to let a horse that is at the top of its game, run.
What are your thoughts on Steeplechasing? Should races like these continue or are they too dangerous?
There are some people who speculate that by lowering the height of some of the fences at the Grand National (ostensibly to make the race safer), the unintended result is that it is now more dangerous because it 1) encourages a faster pace and 2) attracts horses that wouldn’t have been entered if the fences were higher.