Neptune Collonges wins close National

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Grand National 2012 photo finish

Liverpool’s finest flocked through the gates at Aintree in their thousands for the John Smith’s Grand National meeting 2012, and they witnessed a thrilling race with tragic consequences.

The all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final taking place at Wembley at the same time on Saturday, which saw Liverpool triumph over Everton, did not appear to keep racegoers away from Aintree for the famous big day.

The prestigious Grand National race was won by a nostril by 33-1 outsider Neptune Collonges in a fantastic nose-to-nose photo finish, the closest in the history of the event, with long-time leader Sunnyhillboy (16-1).

The horse, the first grey to win the race since 1961, snatched glory in the world-famous steeplechase for jockey Daryl Jacob and ended a 52-horse losing streak for trainer Paul Nicholls.

Despite claiming victory, the 11-year old’s owner, John Hales, announced after the race that the horse would immediately retire, saying: “He’ll never race again, that’s it.”

The thrilling four-mile, four-furlong chase was unfortunately overshadowed by the tragic deaths of early favourite Synchronised and According to Pete, as both horses suffered fatal injuries after falling.

Although some of the more challenging fences were modified this year to help prevent fatalities, the deaths of the horses are likely to put the Grand National in the spotlight again, with animal rights groups calling for a ban of the historic race.

On Friday, fashion took prominence over racing on a sold-out Ladies’ Day. Punters did not allow rain to dampen their spirits on the most important and anticipated day in any stylish Liverpool lady’s calendar.

Thousands of the city’s girls dazzled in bright outfits and heels higher than ever before, while their male counterparts looked dapper in tailored suits.

Many aspiring fashionistas entered the Matalan Style Contest on the day, which was hosted by television personality Jeff Brazier and our Deputy Website Editor, and 2010 winner of the Style Contest, Sophie Fairclough.

The prestigious title of ‘Best Dressed Racegoer’ was handed to fashionable 31-year-old Kelly Platt from Woolton, who wore her grandmother’s 1950’s black dress, Topshop heels and her mother’s handbag. The lucky winner managed to beat 2,500 other entrants to win a £5,000 cash prize.

Many well-known local personalities, including Wayne and Coleen Rooney, Alex Gerrard and model Danielle Lloyd, were spotted among the crowd during the three days enjoying yet another successful annual meeting.

About Camilla Cole, Website Editor