The Grand National of 2012 will be remembered for good and bad. Detractors will point to the shocking deaths of According to Pete and Synchronised, the shambles of Sychonised’s final minutes played out in the most desperate fashion. Others will remember it for the closest finish ever, the collective delight of the Hales family, Paul Nicholls, (Neptune Collonges‘ trainer) and Darryl Jacob, the jockey.
It was a great race and if you want to see it, the BBC coverage (magnificent) can be viewed here.
But for our little party , April 14th will be remembered as the day the world turned orange. Never has so much flesh been bared , in such weather without so much a hint of a moan. Just about everything off to the female population of Liverpool for turning out in numbers and reinventing the parade ring as an impromptu catwalk of block heels, microskirts and fake tan.
I cannot say Aintree is a handsome place, you enter the course from a retail park , the skyline is underwhelming, the flatlands of Merseyside spiked by the odd industrial chimney. There is no natural order in the layout of the stands and rings and it stands no comparison to Cheltenham as a venue.
Yet there was a vibrancy about yesterday that left us breathless. We’d had the bright idea of taking the Orient Express from London which provided the starkest contrast between the aspirations of the few and the reality of the many. Give me the reality of “the many” , a pint of lager and a blue Wicked. Oh and give me the Liverpool Everton semi-final that seemed considerably more interesting than the the processional performances of Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig (a grade one derserves more than four horses and a 1-7 favourite).
With all the shenanigans surrounding Synchronised delaying the final races, many of our party had to slope off before the sixth race to catch our bus back to the train. For those who stayed, our pension background came to the financial rescue. Everyone knows you should lifestyle at the end of the journey. Lifestyle under David Bass duly cruised home at 46 to 1 on the Tote ; long were the celebrations among those of us on the pre-retirement glide path.
So a big thumbs up to Aintree, the wild west of racecourses blessed by the wonderful Coleen Rooney and inspired by the tanning and nail bars of the North West.
I do not even want to understand what drives the orange lovelies to their goose-pimpling exploits but they’re the best thing the Grand National has to offer- and that is saying a hell of a lot!
I take my hat off to them, they took a lot more off for me.
- Grand National winner: how Neptune Collonges, Daryl Jacob and Paul Nicholls won at Aintree (mirror.co.uk)
- Neptune Collonges claims dramatic Grand National (independent.co.uk)
- 2012 Grand National winner is Neptune Collonges, beats Sunnyhillboy by a nose (examiner.com)
- False starts and runaways: Grand National drama (itv.com)
- Grand National 2012: Death of a mighty champion mars epic National victory – Telegraph.co.uk (telegraph.co.uk)
- Neptune Collonges gives Paul Nicholls his first Grand National win (guardian.co.uk)
- Grand National full results: the winner, the finishers, the fallers (mirror.co.uk)
- Sports News: Neptune Collonges wins Grand National at Aintree (walesonline.co.uk)
- 2 Horses Euthanized From Spills at Grand National (abcnews.go.com)
- Grand National: Neptune Collonges edges to victory over Sunnyhillboy in truly … – Scotsman (scotsman.com)
- Grand National Steeplechase leaves two horses dead (examiner.com)
- Deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete overshadow Grand National (guardian.co.uk)
- Neptune Collonges wins National, two horses die (reuters.com)
- National Sport: Neptune glory marred by tragedy (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Live Sport Reports: Neptune glory marred by tragedy (walesonline.co.uk)
You’re absolutely spot on about Aintree not being a handsome place – it’s a shit-hole!! The first thing that struck me was it looked like an old BMX track someone sort of nicked and then built-on and extended in the middle of a council estate but then again it’s Liverpool which is famous for many things but not it’s beauty I guess.
The other thing that struck me was just how small that first fence is. As a kid I was predictably horrified every year seeing horses fall during the National and my Dad (big on his racing and friends with many owners and trainers from the North West) would shut me up and tell me how and why “pandering to them bloody animal rights lot” did more harm than good. Didn’t get that until I started riding competitively in cross country and endurance races many years later and it’s now the one I dread and watch with one eye open.
The other thing that surprised me because I never imagined it would have an impression either way was the canal turn. That must be a bitch to ride.
Sadly 2012 does stick in my mind as the car crash of all Grand Nationals more so because it’s so recent and I can still recall going “That horse is all over the frigging place he’s not fit to run” echoed instantly by Clare Balding live on TV only to quickly backpedal in a way that said someone was shouting in her earpiece.
That he kept going and jumping fences couldn’t be helped by anyone I’m afraid but if nothing else that year saw the changes that have since made the race the safest it’s ever been
That can only be a good thing.
I’ve never been a lovely lady during any race or any event – anywhere. I’m always one of those scruffy looking sods up and down in jhods, boots and a pony tail that’s on its way out so in that sense it’s very much a place I feel bizarrely at home.
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