The mare's aversion to company before her races is well known and she is routinely allowed to go to post early. Yesterday, though, Lochsong was in a parade that demolished her chances as she bolted down to the start.
Ian Balding, her trainer, Jeff Smith, her owner, and Lanfranco Dettori, her rider, were united in their belief that parades for sprinters are absurd. Yet the rules suggest that Lochsong could have been allowed to go down first.
Her connections were unaware of this and were the recipients of cloudy information. (Even the senior stewards' secretary, Patrick Hibbert-Foy, seemed convinced that Lochsong could have gone out of turn in the parade but only if she went down last).
However, the harsh bottom line may be that team Lochsong should have checked the book themselves. Yesterday was almost certainly the end for their mare in these islands and may also be the 25th and final race of her career. It would be a shabby conclusion.
The six-year-old was her usual schizophrenic self in the preliminaries. A docile figure before the jockeys arrived, she became a prancing, nervous beast as soon as Dettori was helped on to her back, snorting with anticipation of the exercise ahead.
He was powerless to prevent his mount colliding with the paddock gate and was a nervous passenger from then on. 'All her life she has been going down first, but today she had horses to chase and she burned herself out,' he said.
Dettori knew by then his chances had all but vanished and a vet examined Lochsong to determine whether she should compete at all. 'She jumped good, but her muscles were tired and she just couldn't go the pace,' reported the jockey. 'I was beaten after a furlong.' Beaten, in fact, into last place.
Balding later told of his dislike of parades and particularly parades as sloppy as yesterday's. 'They're supposed to go out at 10-second intervals, but it was so disorganised and they went out straight after each other,' he said. 'It was absolutely crazy. Sprinters are not temperamentally suited to any type of parade.
'She went nearly bananas just getting out of the paddock because the moment a jockey gets on her she wants to go. But there's no reason really that they should give Lochsong exemption to go out first.' But there is, and it is in the rule book.
In the fresh flush of disappointment, the trainer suggested that Lochsong would never be back. 'She wants to end up on a winning note and I'd love to go to Longchamp (for the Prix de l'Abbaye), but there's a question mark now,' he said. 'It wouldn't surprise me if the decision is taken to retire her now.'
Smith's dismay was such that he could not be cheered by the fact that his other horse in the race, Blue Siren, was first past the post. This was probably just as well, as the chestnut was relegated to second place at a stewards' inquiry because her jockey, Michael Hills, was found guilty of irresponsible riding. For this misdemeanour he was given a seven-day ban.
The beneficiary after all this was Piccolo, who provided Mick Channon with his first Group One success. Even he of the excessive windmill celebration was a muted figure. Channon knew that when the 1994 Nunthorpe is brought to mind it will not be for the victory of Piccolo.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content