Brave Cerium fractured skull in National

Cerium’s shock run to finish fifth in the John Smith’s Grand National looks even more remarkable after connections found he ran at least a circuit of the race with a fractured skull.

The eight-year-old was as big as 500-1 on the morning of the world’s greatest steeplechase having finished down the field in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but was backed into 100-1 before the off – the same price as race winner Mon Mome.

Having been settled towards the rear, the gelding made stealthy headway to finish just over 18 lengths behind the winner, a performance which delighted trainer Paul Murphy – especially considering this recent development.

“It is unbelievable news and it just makes me even happier with the run,” said Murphy.

“He’ll be OK but there was a trickle of blood there and I just wasn’t happy with him so I got the vet round to see him and you can actually feel the bone where he has fractured his skull.

“He’ll be on anti-biotics to stop any infection but he just needs rest basically. He got kicked right above the eye and while it is very swollen, it hasn’t done any damage to the eye and he can see perfectly out of it.

“I thought he had bled so I had him scoped to see if there was blood in his lungs but there wasn’t and then we found this out, it’s unbelievable really.

“Whether he got kicked at the fourth fence or whether he got kicked by Zabenz who came down at the water jump we just don’t know, but even if it had happened at the last it’s still a miraculous thing to finish fifth.

“I’m not saying he would have won but who knows what would have happened? He is a gorgeous horse.

“All being well next season he will just have one run in either the Gold Cup or the cross-country race at Cheltenham and then go back for the National.

“He’s a nine-year-old next year which is the ideal age and I will be going to Aintree full of confidence.”

Cerium is 50-1 with totesport to go four places better in the Grand National in 12 months’ time.

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