Grand National photo-finish marred by deaths


Thousands of racecourse spectators and millions of TV viewers watched
the closest Grand National in history today, but the event was marred by
tragedy as big favourite Synchronised died after a fall.

There was relief among the bookies after grey outsider Neptune Collonges, at 33/1, edged to a photo-finish victory in the 165th running of the world's most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Merseyside.

The race was late starting after Synchronised threw his jockey Tony McCoy and got loose.

Synchronised was rounded up and reunited with McCoy in time to run, but was one of two mounts to die following falls - the other was According to Pete.

The organisers of the race said a third horse, Killyglen, was receiving treatment but his injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Four horses died at the meet last year, including Dooneys Gate and Ornais during the big race itself.

In the wake of these deaths, the organisers of the Grand National introduced changes to the course this year, which included reducing drops on the landing side of fences.

Commenting on the death of the two horses today, Julian Thick, Aintree Managing director, said: "We are desperately sad at these two accidents and our sympathies are with the connections of both horses.

"When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset.

"Safety is the first priority for the organisers of the Grand National and we make every effort to ensure that everyone involved in the event is able to participate safely.

"Since last year we have made further significant changes to the course and there have been four races run over the course without serious incident since then.

"After today we will, as always, be looking at all aspects of this year's race to see how we can improve safety further."

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of winner Neptune Collonges, said: "Millions of people watch the race many people get pleasure from it.

"We all knew before we came here the risks.

"The horses get looked after brilliantly but unfortunately these things do happen."

On a happier note, jockey Katie Walsh, 27, came closer than any other woman before to becoming the first female rider to win the Grand National during her debut in the race.

The sister of star jockey Ruby Walsh, who was not able to take part following a fall earlier in the day, brought Seabass in third.

She said: "He gave me an unbelievable spin.

"I was wrong a couple of times and he put me right but it is just a fantastic experience and great to get round.

"I want to go out and do it all over again."

Bookies toasted Neptune Collonges' win after punters laid millions on Seabass in the run up to the race to make it joint favourite with Synchronised.

Fred Done, chairman of bookmaker Betfred, said: "Paying out on Neptune Collonges' National victory is a drop in the ocean compared to the fortune I would have had to shell out if Seabass would have won.

"Katie Walsh winning the world's biggest race could have cost me well over a million quid."

A spokesman for betting shop Paddy Power said: "Punters probably won't remember the 2012 John Smith's Grand National as a race that filled their wallets.

"Seabass finishing third was the only thing that they really had to cheer about as he went off 8/1 joint favourite (together with Synchronised) from 22/1 in the morning, but the bookmakers have certainly come out on top."

Wags Coleen Rooney and Alex Gerrard brought glamour to the racecourse again following yesterday's Ladies' Day.

Liverpool star Steven Gerrard's wife Alex plumped for a tuxedo-inspired Galaxy-style dress in cream and black.

Wayne Rooney's wife Coleen opted for a softer flower and butterfly print for her outfit, dressing son Kai in a white jacket and teal scarf.

The race contributed to a bumper sport day for Merseyside as Liverpool beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

During the day, fans of both sides walked around the racecourse with stickers proclaiming "I'm a Red" and "I'm a Blue" and watched the game on screens throughout the course.

A massive cheer went up when Liverpool scored a 1-1 equaliser just as the first race of the day, won by Simonsig, drew to a conclusion.

But Evertonians looked glum after Liverpool striker Andy Carroll grabbed a late winner for the Reds.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam