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Neptunes Collanges? Thank God it wasn't Shakalakaboomboom.

WHO won the Grand National? Not me, obviously, or anybody else I've spoken to.

But poor punting aside, which horse won the National last Saturday? According to the BBC, every single newspaper, the bookies and even the Aintree racecard, it was a grand old grey called Neptune Collonges.

Read that carefully, Neptune Collonges.

A horse called Neptune Collonges edged out Sunnyhill Boy in the closest Grand National ever staged.

But sharp-eyed viewers watching the BBC's highlights show on Saturday night will have seen the man who carefully etches the winner's name onto the Aintree Roll of Honour after the race, painting "Neptunes Collonges".

That's Neptunes, with an 'S.' Now as a newspaper-man, I'm aware I'm tossing stones from inside a very large greenhouse here, but did Aintree get it wrong? Does Neptune have several Collonges? What are Collonges anyway? And if he does, why no apostrophe? Of course horse names rarely follow the usual rules of spelling or grammar.

But regardless of spelling, all horse names have to be registered with the British Horseracing Authority.

That's why mischievous bids to name horses Norfolk Enchants, Oil Beef Hooked and Arfur Foulkesaycke were ruled out (as was a sincere attempt to name an Echo owned racehorse of the 1990s The Back Entry Diddler, after the famous Echo cartoon strip of the 1950s. "Sexual connotations" said the BHA and we ended up with Echo Princess.) But on this year's National winner, a spokesman for the BHA was adamant.

"It's Neptune Collonges. 100 per cent. No shadow of a doubt," he declared.

So why Neptunes? A spokesperson for Aintree cleared up the mystery.

"The name was painted quickly on for the benefit of the TV cameras, and an extra 'S' was mistakenly added.

"The winner is definitely Neptune Collonges and when the name is painted on permanently in gold leaf that's how it will read."

They're no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that Shakalakaboomboom didn't win!

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STRAY: The Roll of Honour Board with the added 'S'
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2012
Words:335
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