FRANKIE Dettori was exasperated, almost angry.
"He was just flat, flat," the Italian megastar said as he weighed in.
"He just wasn't the same horse."
In his 16th Melbourne Cup, 25 years after his first all the way back in 1993, Dettori had missed yet another chance to scale the mountain for the first time.
This year was arguably his best shot, given the plum ride on Almandin, last year's winner and smashed by punters, later to be very disgruntled punters, in to equal $7 favourite in the minutes before the race.
Dettori, now 47, a winner of the biggest races around the world, had never actually sat on Almandin before Tuesday.
He arrived in Melbourne only on Monday, from the US, and didn't check in to the jockey's room at Flemington until 12.30 on Cup Day.
The race was at 3pm.
Dettori doesn't do warm up rides, which may have proven to be not a bad call when Joao Moreira, a rider in the same class as the Italian, fell in race four and lost his Cup start.
He hung out in the jockey's room for a couple of hours, popped out for his pre-race weigh in, then disappeared again.
Dettori was bubbly and smiling when he came back out, all dressed up, silks on, for the national anthem.
In the minutes before he did get on Almandin, a full 10 per cent of all TAB fixed odds bets on his shoulders, he bumped in to Lloyd Williams at the door to the jockey's room.
They have been friends for 20 years. That's how he got the ride on Almandin. It was one of Williams' six runners.
"You know your way around this place?" Williams asked jokingly. Or not.
Dettori was widely panned for his horror show ride on Wicklow Brave in last year's race.
He rode like he'd never been to Flemington, wide all the way. Not just wide, really wide.
This year was about redemption, and delivering on his "world class" status.
Two seconds in 15 Cup rides is not the return a jockey of Dettori's quality should be happy with, even in a race as tough at the Melbourne Cup.
Almandin had been flat in his last outing, but the Williams camp was confident, as, clearly, were punters.
But early on, it looked like another "oh no" effort from Dettori.
He clashed with Single Gaze in the early jostling for position, but still found himself three wide from barrier 14.
Dettori was angling to get closer to the rail, but nothing was moving for him. No free kicks here.
It wasn't until the 1600m mark he even got cover, as Tiberian strode up around him. But the French horse kept going forward, leaving Frankie wider than he wants.
A 3200m trip, three wide most of the way, is not the way to ride the Melbourne Cup.
As they turned for home the field spread out. Dettori and Almandin were still midfield, but moving.
He needed to get out, and nudged Single Gaze, again, out of the way to get in clear going.
Dettori went for home, closer to the middle of the track than the rail.
But as he whacked away, Almandin just didn't respond.
The surge from last year was nowhere to be seen. The toll of all that extra ground covered, the ride no-one who backed Almandin wanted, maybe proved too much.
"Yeah I was stuck three wide but the horse was flat," Dettori explained, a bit flat himself.
"He never carried it today and he ran like a flat horse."
And that was that.
Dettori emerged from the jockeys room next time all suited up, about 3.30pm.
There was no further explanation, he trudged out of the jockeys room, turned right, and headed up the stairs to the Committee Room.
Dettori's 16th hit and run Cup mission had finished as the previous 15, without the Cup, and all that punter's cash invested so faithfully in a jockey of the highest calibre, gone.
Like he was not long after the race, until next year. Maybe.
FRANKIE DETTORI IN THE MELBOURNE CUP
2017 - Almandin (12th)
2016 - Wicklow Brace (22nd)
2015 - Max Dynamite (2nd)
2012 - Cavalryman (12th)
2010 - Holberg (6th)
2006 - Geordieland (18th)
2004 - Mamool (7th)
2003 - Mamool (last)
2002 - Pugin (18th)
2001 - Marienbad (7th)
2000 - Lightning Arrow (17th)
1999 - Central Park (2nd)
1998 - Faithful Son (7th)
1997 - Arabian Story (6th)
1995 - Bullwinkle (10th)
1993 - Drum Taps (9th)
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.