The 1956 Grand National predates Betfair and Twitter but if ever there was material for a 1.01 gubbage and twitter meltdown this was it.
"To do a Devon Loch" has become an idiom such that If someone does a Devon Loch, they fail when they were very close to winning.
Devon Loch Video
The horse was owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by Dick Francis. Francis went on to become a best selling author of equine novels.
What happened ?
There are a few theories but in truth no one knows.
Here are a few of them:
1. Devon Loch thought he saw an obstacle out of the corner of his eye – the water jump in another part of the course – and instinctively tried to jump it.
Francis dismissed this theory. He said that when a horse is steadying himself to jump, he gathers the muscles of his hindquarters and tucks his legs under him for the spring – and there was no indication of Devon Loch doing this.
2. Devon Loch had a heart attack.
But Francis dismissed this too. The horse was not showing any signs of stress, and within two minutes was on his feet again.
3. Devon loch suffered a sudden muscular spasm in his hindquarters.
This is a possible. At the time of the incident, Francis thought that Devon Loch had broken a leg. Cramp would seem to be a logical explanation.
4. Devon Loch was suddenly surprised by the noise from the crowd and tried to throw himself back from it.
This was the theory Francies supported.
The other jockeys in the race recalled that they had never heard such noise from an Aintree crowd, perhaps because it was the first time a reigning monarch was present to see what would have been a royal victory.
Francis said years later:
"The Devon Loch episode is still a terrible memory, even after all these years. I had had a terrific ride for four and a quarter miles on him and he pricked his ears up and I believe that is when the noise of the crowd hit him.
"I've looked at the newsreel time and time again and just as we were approaching the water jump, which he jumped on the first circuit, you see the horse prick his ears and his hindquarters just refused to work."