Devon Loch’s literal collapse when coasting to victory in the 1956 Grand National is one of those matters of sporting fact so strange that it has an almost quasi-fictional quality.
The Royal family’s mount was ridden by Dick Francis, the future world-renowned novelist, who specialised in mysteries and died this week aged 89.
The reason why the former jockey’s most infamous ride bellyflopped onto the Aintree turf within fifty yards of the finish line has never been adequately explained.
The theories have included the steeplechaser’s misapprehension of a shadow as a water jump, or that the crowd’s raucous cheers prompted him to hit the deck – the most probable cause, in Francis’s opinion.
Among the many other possibilities put forward as to why Devon Loch did the splits was that the horse was “destabilised by breaking wind violently after his girth was made too tight.”
Hmmm. As his owner the Queen Mother mightn’t have said: I’ve heard of shitting on the course but that’s ridiculous.