Record-breaker Stand Guard retired following odds-on Lingfield flop.
Newmarket trainer John Butler had pinpointed the 1m4f seller for the ten-year-old's swansong and was left deflated as the 1-4 favourite bowed out a shadow of his former self, beaten 20 lengths in trailing home last of the four runners.
In his prime Stand Guard farmed low-grade races of this type, splitting his wins between Lingfield, Kempton, Southwell and Wolverhampton. In March he eclipsed China Sea's previous record of 25 all-weather victories, although that notable success was achieved amidst controversy after four of his five intended rivals were withdrawn.
Butler said yesterday: "He has been a fantastic servant, there is no question about that, and I took him to Lingfield with the intention of giving him his last run and going out on a winning note, but unfortunately it just didn't happen.
"His legs are perfect this morning, and he ate up, but there is obviously some problem I haven't got to the bottom of and I have retired him now.
"It's a shame because if he'd run to a rating of 60 he would have won at Lingfield, but he didn't and I'm disappointed at myself now for running him. We don't do too much work with him at home, being an older horse; general exercise worked for him when he won all those races so there was no point changing the system."
Butler admits finding a replacement will prove difficult and is still kicking himself for not snapping up Omnipresent, Stand Guard's half-brother who was claimed by Robert Cowell after getting the better of his charge at Southwell this month.
Butler, who will continue to provide a home for Stand Guard, added: "He has been very good to me. There was good publicity and bad publicity, but I suppose that's racing."
Stand Guard and connections at Southwell after his most recent win