Neptune Collonges “in great form” after Grand National win

  • Grand National hero Neptune Collonges, or Nipper as he is affectionately known at home, is “fine and well” following his win on Saturday (14 April).

    “He’s on great form,” Georgie Nicholls, wife of winning trainer Paul, told H&H today (Tuesday 17 April).

    “Everyone here loves him and we’re all absolutely delighted. He walked out yesterday and this morning and he’s fine – he’s completely sound. He’s just been chilling.”

    The brave grey received a hero’s welcome at Nicholls’ Somerset yard on Saturday night after winning the Grand National by a nose – the closest finish in the race’s 165 runs. He also became the first grey to win since 1961.

    And on Sunday (15 April) around 400 people descended on Ditcheat to celebrate his victory.

    “He was a bit lively at the parade – I’ve honestly never seen so many people here,” added Georgie. “But he’s such a nice horse, he’s so kind and gentle.”

    Neptune Collonges was retired in a blaze of glory immediately after the race.

    He goes to owner John Hales’ stud in Shropshire each summer, and he will return there this summer where a plan will be made for his retirement.

    “He’ll have a great retirement, he can turn his foot to anything,” said Georgie. “He’ll be seen again doing something I’m sure. He’s so capable, kind, easy and straightforward – I’ve been inundated with requests from people wanting to take him hunting. He’s got an enormous jump so he’d be good at it!”

    Mr Hales, who also owns Nick Skelton’s great former showjumpers Arko and Russel, added: “This is so emotional for me. I just wanted him to get round safely but I never dreamed he would win. My thought after he jumped the last was just ‘thank God’ he’s home and well. He’ll never race again – that’s it.”

    The 11-year-old has won 16 times from 36 starts – including the Grade One Irish Hennessy and the Grade One Guinness Gold Cup twice. He also came third behind stable-mates Denman and Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008.

    Georgie added: “Winning the National was a brilliant achievement and he really deserved it – to show his talent, stamina and bravery. He’s been the bridesmaid so many times and he ran a blinding race.”

    Neptune Collonges is to join stable-mates Kauto Star, Rock On Ruby and Big Buck’s in a Parade of Champions at Sandown Park racecourse on Saturday 28 April.

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