Aintree, Liverpool - Something spooked long time Grand National favorite and Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Synchronised as he cantered over the starting line at Aintree before the off this afternoon.
Witnesses say he unseated jockey AP McCoy who'd just taken him down from the pre-race parade before running off down the track 'as if sensing something dreadful to come'.
Did the animal predict his own impending death ahead of the race?
"Half an hour later after the incident the champ was RIP," a stable lad commented as news broke that the Jonjo O'Neill-trained runner had been put down after successfully jumping Becher's but landing badly and ejecting his rider.
A broken foreleg was diagnosed and soon had the Aintree vet reach for his humane killing pistol; a bullet to the temples then dispatched Synchronised to the Pearly Gates equivalent of equine heaven.
"To be sure it's a tragedy," someone in owner JP McManus' entourage sobbed at the news that the winner of more than £500,000 in prize money was no more.
"Where's Scobie Breasley in the nation's great hour of need?"