Hales, whose horse One Man was killed at the same meeting 14 years ago, said of Neptune Collonges's victory: "When he crossed the line I thought he might have got it. My first thought was if he has got it Paul [Nicholls] has won the trainers' championship. And then I thought thank you Aintree - you know why - many years ago.
"It split the family coming here. My wife was 50-50, my daughter couldn't face it. She has gone show jumping and is overcome with emotion."
He also announced the French-bred horse's retirement, saying: "He'll never race again, that's it."
The grey, who stole the famous steeplechase from Sunnyhillboy with the final stride, became the first National winner for trainer Paul Nicholls, who also claimed the Aintree trainers' championship ahead of great rival Nicky Henderson.
Nicholls said: "He is class, it is just fantastic. It has blown [rival for the trainer's title] Nicky Henderson out of the water so that game is up for the season!"
The engrossing race was overshadowed by news that two horses had to be put down after falling at the famous Becher's Brook fence.