The 2012 Grand National was an absolute classic, with almost nothing to separate two runners at the very end. The eventual winner of the race was Neptune Collonges, winning for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Daryl Jacob.
Despite having many reasons to back him, Neptune Collonges went off at 33/1 for the race, so those lucky enough to pick him out were rewarded with a large SP.
Despite running for more than four miles, we needed a photo finish to separate two horses at the end. Neptune Collonges attacked late joining Sunnyhillboy towards the finish line and after the photo finish, he was declared the winner.
There was real drama afterwards as those on course and at home waited for the result of the photo finish, with a wait over one and a half minutes until the judge made his decision.
Although we didn’t know at the time of the race, this would be the last time that the BBC covered the Grand National, with television rights moving across to Channel 4 a year later, ending 53 consecutive races that had been covered by the BBC.
What Happened In The 2012 Grand National?
All 40 runners that were declared, set off for the 2012 Grand National. The start was not straightforward, beginning with Synchronised, the mount of AP McCoy, unseating his rider and running loose. We also saw two false starts, where runners tried to go early and broke the tape.
Seabass and Shakalakaboomboom were sent off as the 8/1 joint-favourites for the race. Seabass certainly got the most betting attention, being ridden by female jockey, Katie Walsh. He did the best of the two favourites, finishing third in the race, while Shakalakaboomboom finished 9th.
Neptune Collonges took the race for the Paul Nicholls team, giving the master trainer his first-ever Grand National win from 53 runners across 20 Grand Nationals in the past. Immediately after the race, owner John Hales announced that his winner would be retired from racing.
The race was unfortunately tarnished, however, as we saw two horse deaths, Synchronised and According To Pete, as well as a broken leg for jockey Noel Fehily. These came despite changes to the Aintree course in a bid to increase safety in the race.
The going for the race was described as good, good to soft in places, giving perfect spring jumping ground for the runners.
The Closest Grand National Finish Ever
At the time of crossing the line, it looked tight, with the naked eye unable to split the runners and that was confirmed when we received the winning distances. The victory of Neptune Collonges was officially recorded as a win by a nose, which makes it the narrowest winning victory in the race.
This gave unbelievable drama, at home and on the course, with the winner just getting up in time to win, and what felt like an eternity afterwards to find out the race winner.
New Safety Changes Have Little Impact
Following a review into the 2011 Grand National, where two horses died on course, safety changes were made to the race. Three fences had alterations made to them, either making them smaller, or raising the landing side of the fence to aid horses.
On top of that, the minimum age for runners was increased from six to seven, and horses were only eligible if they had finished at least fourth or better in a chase race over a distance of three miles or more.
Farewell To The BBC
At the time, no one knew that this would be the final Grand National to take place live on the BBC, but racing rights were transferred across to Channel 4 before the 2013 race. This ended a run of 53 consecutive races that had been broadcast live on TV by the BBC, with the race holding a special place on the Saturday afternoon sports coverage for many years.
Despite the changes to broadcasting rights on TV, the BBC did maintain the rights to radio coverage, something that had been in place since 1927.
Moments Of Note
- The Grand National winner Neptune Collonges became just the third grey horse to ever win the contest when he crossed the line first
- He was also the first ever winner for trainer Paul Nicholls, winning the race with his 53rd runner in the race, runners that have been spread across 20 different races
- Safety changes were made to the race ahead of this year’s running, but that made no difference this time around. Sadly, two horses were fatally injured on course, and on top of that, jockey Noel Fehily broke his leg during the race
- The winning distance of a nose is the closest ever in Grand National history
- Winning horse Neptune Collonges was immediately retired after the race by his owner John Hales.