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1956 Grand National....what happened to Devon Loch?

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  • 1956 Grand National....what happened to Devon Loch?

    Just curious if more educated eyes could tell from the video, what caused him to fall? Did he just slip? Or did he injure himself? Couldn't find a lot googling. At first I laughed, thought it was just bad luck. But if you watch them walk away, it looked like his front left was buckling under his weight...not sure if it was just fatigue, or if it was broken. Poor guy, though...


  • #2
    That question has been solidly debated ever since 1956 and even the jockey, Dick Francis, could not explain it. Horse wasn't damaged.
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


    • #3
      Pick up Dick Francis's book The Sport of Queens: The Autobiography of Dick Francis. His 1993 revision has a lengthy chapter on the race and his thoughts on the cause of the freak fall. He laments losing a race every jockey dreams of winning in such a bizarre fashion. He also wrote that losing that race in that way was integral to the man he became - and for that he had no regrets.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the info...had never heard the story before, didn't realize it was such a huge event, much less an unexplained one. I love Dick Francis novels, have never read his autobio before.


        • #5
          Every now and then you'll hear the term 'He did a devon loch' which was a phrase coined after his famous fall.
          Blog: My journey with two OTTB's


          • #6
            Oh, and Devon Loch was 100% fine after that sprawling collapse.


            • #7
              You know watching that film, just before the final jump, if you look at Devon Loch's hind legs, they were almost "loose" looking for a better term? Like the human adage "my legs felt like jelly". I can see it clearly in the video starting around 1:04 and onward, look at his hind legs. He just looked spent...maybe like marathon runner whose legs just fall out from underneath him, it looks just about the same..


              • Original Poster

                darkmoonlady, that's the impression I got. Maybe he just wasn't fit enough? Or was worked too hard that week? Or who knows. Being the Queen's horse, I can't imagine him not recieving the best possible care, but horses are still horses.


                • #9
                  I think I remember Dick Francis' theory was that he recoiled from the sound. Francis said that the roar of the crowd in the stretch was unlike anything he had ever heard before on the track - people cheering for the certain royal victory. He says the horse hesitated a little in the stretch, then pricked his ears, then jumped back at the onslaught of sound as soon as he pricked them.


                  • #10
                    I always attributed it to the hand of God. The Crone on the Throne has never won, too bad that does not cause the overthrow of the empire but every little bit helps!
                    "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mintano View Post
                      Every now and then you'll hear the term 'He did a devon loch' which was a phrase coined after his famous fall.
                      Ouch. That's unfortunate. What a way to go down in history, especially for a good horse who otherwise had a successful career.

                      Like the baseball player Tommy John whose name is now used to describe surgery for ailing pitchers.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by talkofthetown View Post
                        Just curious if more educated eyes could tell from the video, what caused him to fall? Did he just slip? Or did he injure himself? Couldn't find a lot googling. At first I laughed, thought it was just bad luck. But if you watch them walk away, it looked like his front left was buckling under his weight...not sure if it was just fatigue, or if it was broken. Poor guy, though...

                        It is better to look at newspaper stills of the event, rather than the old grainy film. Off track, coming to the inside fence, there is a ditch in the field - approximately 1 metre broad. Devon Lock takes a moderate leap EXACTLY at the point of this ditch.

                        The horse had imagined the ditch continues below his head and, reigned out, beyond his immediate vision.

                        The jockey didn't respond and D Loch corrected himself.... but belly flopped.


                        • #13
                          It's always looked to me like the horse tried to jump something in the stretch. It's one of those great mysteries of the Grand National.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mara View Post
                            Oh, and Devon Loch was 100% fine after that sprawling collapse.
                            That's good to know.


                            • #15
                              There were many theories, some conspiratorial, like that someone let off a shot to put him off his stride, but the noise was lost in the roar.

                              Some think he mistook the jump on the adjacent track for a split second and almost made an attempt to jump it.
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique