At 3:24 pm on Tuesday, it will be exactly 64 years since Devon Loch presented the most famous belly in the history of the sport. We’ve all seen some glorious examples of defeat being pulled out of the clutches of victory, but out of sheer and sudden discouragement, it’s hard to beat the horse that jumped all the fences at the Grand National, fought the contest and then fell with just a few meters, for no obvious reason.
Here are the images again:
I make seven strides that the winner, ESB, takes from the point where the capsized Devon Loch passes to the winning post. All that work to cover six kilometers and all Devon Loch had to do was take seven more steps …
In all my years watching racing, I don't think I saw another example of a horse doing exactly what Devon Loch did, so it's very difficult to know what happened to him and why. A popular theory is that he saw the wing of the water jump in the side of the eye and thought it would be better to take off at the last second.
2.00 Rebel Gold 2.30 Indescribable star 3.00 Shantou Sisu (nap) 3.30 Global Fert 4.00 Duty of Death 4.30 Robin Deuz Pois (nb) 5.00 Kangaroo Captain
Some think he was shocked by the noise of the crowd, in his full throat, as he anticipated the victory of a horse carrying the colors of the Queen Mother. Participation would have been much greater than the modern 70,000 in those pre-health and safety days, four years before the National's first live broadcast on TV.
Maybe he slipped on false ground? It was reported that a stop cock was found leaking from the water jump and supposedly led to a wet spot on the run.
But, looking at the repetition now, I found myself thinking, "Cramp". So it is interesting to open the autobiography of his jockey, Dick Francis, and find the following words: “In the second moment of his fall, I thought he had broken a back leg, as he passed out from behind, but when I found out he was intact, the cramp seemed the only solution.
“Obviously, Devon Loch did not suffer prolonged cramps, as he was walking normally two minutes after his fall, but a violent spasm equivalent to a point seems like a reasonable possibility. Veterinary opinion seems to be so rare that it is almost unknown. On the other hand, a retired hunter told me that he used to ride a mare that did the same thing. She fell twice without warning on the hunting ground while galloping, and after that he felt that she was more of a risk than a pleasure … ”
Anne Holland also presented some evidence for cramp in her 1988 book, Grand National: The Celebration Of the Year of 150 Years. She cites Alex King, who worked in Devon Loch's backyard, as suggesting that research at the time showed a connection between human athletes who took glucose and suffered cramps. "We used to buy glucose for the horses for Boots' thanks … There was never a barrel of glucose in Fairlawne again after Devon Loch."
Anyway, you can relive the race here and tell me your theories below. After solving this problem, we can continue with the question of how The Lamb managed to change its color since its first national victory in 1868, when he was gray to his second in 1871, when he was almost black.
Tuesday's best bets will appear here at 10am