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Sports Then and Now




Devon Loch Grand National Disaster, 1956

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Christina Sommers

Horse-1The day ought to have been another cheerful competition, but destiny had its way by adding an additional Grand National event into the books of history. It was in 1956 with a horse named Devon Loch owned by HM Queen Elizabeth. The name of the Rider was Dick Francis and these characters all made up this historical event.

Dick And The Scars Of Devon Loch

Horse-2Irrespective of having 2 former champions and a forthcoming champion in the steeplechase on this very day, Devon Loch was favored for showing his capability by winning two times that year and being a third runner-up at the Cheltenham that same season. Just as one would have hoped to predict from the horse racing grand national – everything was adding up for a blow at the trophy. There came a boost for his headway when two of the people’s favorites stumbled – leaving just M’as-tu-vu at the forefront and Devon coming sound somewhere in the middle. This horse didn’t encounter any difficulty getting past these obstacles except for when trying to diverge to pass a horse that collapsed before him during the opening circuit.

However, he achieved this in elegance and ended the opening circuit of the race by soaring over the chair, which is the biggest amongst the fences in the steeplechase. Of course, this gave his jockey great joy as they went on for the concluding straight. This was portrayed in the rider’s autobiography later on that he had never experienced such strength in backup, such assurance in his mount, such tranquil in his mind, and it was understandable that there would only be one champion. Little did he know that there would be a tragedy about fifty yards to go when everyone in the stand were already flinging up their hats in jubilation of an amazing triumph for Devon Loch, Dick, and the owner. For no explainable reason, the horse lifted into the air and landed on his stomach. However, the horse stood up and his rider made attempt to make him complete the race, but it was apparent that was the end of Devon’s race. Meanwhile, ESB came along to be the winner of the contest and Devon Loch’s fear in a steeplechase that seems to be one of the world’s paramount became obvious to the amazed multitude.

Even those that are used to winning bets taking advantage of Grand National: betting tips and odds online wouldn’t have seen this coming. This left a great grief and disappointment both on the owner the coach and the rider of the horse. There was a series of theories to explain what transpired at that race. The rider associated the horse’s fright with the rumble of the crowd, a policeman that was on duty blamed it on a shady wet spot that made the horse to misstep on the way. Some said the horse thought there was a wall there because of the obscuration it saw, which frightened him. Till date, there isn’t a clear explanation for the reaction of the horse because he was seen to be in decent form after running a series of tests later on. However, the most logical of the theories is that of the fence’s shadow because how else do we explain the horse jumping for no reason?


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