It was over in 72 seconds and over for another year for Jim Goldie and for Scotland. There was an element of philosophical resignation as the trainer from Uplawmoor threw a bucket of water over Jack Dexter, his and his nation's great hope in the matter of breaking a drought that stretches back to 1975.
The mantra before the stalls opened yesterday was that there had not been a Scotland-trained winner of the Ayr Gold Cup for 38 years. The wait continues after Jack Dexter, trained by Goldie, finished third in the venerable race yesterday, leaving those wishing for a Scottish success to console themselves with the later realisation that the winner, Highland Colori, is owned by Evan Sutherland, an Aberdonian, who was apparently at Newmarket for the day.
The gallant Jack Dexter, humping top weight, raced in just behind Louis The Pious, ridden by Daniel Tudhope, who was brought up in Irvine. The Scottish celebrations were thus restricted to Mr Sutherland and those at Ayr who were carrying vouchers for the 20-1 winner.
But there should be a celebration of the sheer Scottishness on show on the biggest race day of the Flat season north of the border. The invitation to put on a smart frock led to scenes featuring more bare flesh than Caligula's bachelor party, with that delicate hint of blue marble that marks the female body when exposed to an Ayrshire September.
The males of species, or at least some of them, were dressed in suits so shiny they could have been used to send tic-tac signals by reflection. All carried the compulsory fashion accessory of a plastic tumbler filled with amber liquid. They were out to enjoy themselves and that they did on an entertaining, if generally unprofitable, day for the punter.
If winning the Gold Cup requires a degree of luck, speed and canniness on the part of horse, spectators can be less attuned to the arcane specifics of handicap sprinting.
"Has it started yet?" enquired one west of Scotland belle, teetering on heels so precipitous one suspected she was auditioning for a job as a high-crane camerawoman.
The verdant expanse in front of her was free of horseflesh. It may be that our equine friends were spooked by the scenes in front of the grandstand where the elegant were outnumbered by the merrily garish. It is more likely that the belle was unaware that the start time of 3.50 was some way off and the opening of the stalls would not go unnoticed.
The roar that erupted when the six-furlong sprint for the Gold Cup was finally launched gained impetus when Jack Dexter, at 8-1, appeared to be in with more than a chance. The leading Scottish hope, though, could not make a devastating dash for the line and there was disappointment in the grandstand and the unsaddling enclosure.
In the former, a carpet of discarded slips spoke eloquently of the damage incurred to the communal purse. In the latter, Goldie, after drenching his horse with water, was splendidly philosophical in defeat. "It is as close as I have been," he said of his continuing, but unsuccessful, attempts to win a race in which the last Scottish success came through Roman Warrior in 1975.
"He has lost nothing in defeat," added Goldie. But the trainer knew he had. Jack Dexter was just a couple of lengths from victory but this is more than far enough. Goldie believed, with justification, that the draw bias had done for the chances of his horse. The rail was where the winners ran this week at Ayr but Goldie took a central draw to ensure a clear run, believing his horse could be blocked in a traffic jam on the rails. "It was a gamble that failed," he said.
Jack Dexter could be back next year. "It is obviously a race I would like to win," Goldie added.
Richard "Chad" Phillips, the travelling manager speaking on behalf of Newbury-based trainer Andrew Balding, praised winner Highland Colori as "a tough, consistent, hardy horse".
His jockey has more spectacular traits. Apprentice Oisin Murphy who, at 18, is believed to be the youngest rider to win the Ayr Gold Cup in the modern era, also went on to win the Mini Ayrshire Handicap on Levitate for John Quinn, then the Microtech Support Handicap on Silver Rime for Linda Perratt and then the Jordan Electric Handicap, again for Quinn.
The Silver Cup was won by Ancient Cross, trained by Mick Easterby and ridden by Pat Cosgrove, but it was Murphy's day with his four consecutive winners providing a 23,151-1 accumulator. In Silver Rime, he also gave the day a Scotland-trained winner, if not in the race everyone hoped.
Murphy was calmly assured in the unsaddling enclosure and fully focused in the saddle. "The biggest race I have won?" he said. "This is it. The next biggest to this was in front of 10 people."
With £96,487.50 earned for the connections of the Gold Cup winner, the pale Irishman has already testified he has a golden touch. He is already 9-4 favourite with William Hill to be the leading apprentice next season and the lad from Kerry seems to have a future. But at Ayr yesterday the past continued to cast its shadow. The Scottish hoodoo in the Gold Cup continues. The punters, though, were bearing up well under the grief.
They snaked home in a good humour buoyed by liquid sustenance. The electronic boards flickered a last message, informing the mass of punters where the nearest cash machines were situated. It brought a smile and a roar of acclaim from one, listing under the consequence of welcoming alcohol while waving goodbye to cash.