When Red Cadeaux crossed the line in second place in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, it was the third time the unlucky English stayer had been runner-up in Australia’s richest race.
It seems unfortunate that the names of those who finish second are often relegated to a small footnote in history.
On A Jeune, Vinnie Roe and She’s Archie would be far more familiar to you had it not been for an outstanding mare called Makybe Diva.
Still, second places can come in different forms – some are devastating, some leave leave competitors feeling cheated but some are seized with grateful hands.
Here are some of the most famous second places in Australian sport.
A nation feels cheated
Raelene Boyle is rightfully remembered as one of our finest athletes, and was a serial gold medallist at 100m, 200m and 400m at Commonwealth Games level. But on the biggest stage of all, she came up against an East German woman called Renate Stecher. Later it emerged, in secret police files, that Stecher was on the Ivan Drago diet, and Renae had to be content with silver in both the 100m and 200m in 1972 in Munich. All these years on, it’s still a bitter pill for the sprinter to swallow.
A nation feels the love
It seems surreal to think now that she’s Olympic champion, but Sally Pearson was at one stage so grateful for a silver that she could barely compose herself to conduct her post-race interview in Beijing. She’s changed a bit now Sally, that’s what sustained success will do to you, so it’s nice to look back on an athlete enjoying the innocence that goes with pulling off an unexpected medal.
A nation feels a collective tightening in the collar
The Great White Shark, Greg Norman, really should have had his nickname revoked, given the amount of times he coughed it up on the big stage. His Masters disappointments live long in the memory. He fell victim to a sublime chip from Larry Mize in 1987, but it was his nuclear meltdown on the final day against Nick Faldo in 1996 that burns the fiercest. Leading by six strokes heading into the final round, he ended up losing by five shots after a catastrophic 78.
A nation, uh, feels for The Missile
James Magnussen’s well-documented confidence in the lead-up to the London Olympics was so pervading even his teammates were hoping he’d sink. In the end there was only a bitten fingernail between him and American Nathan Adrian in the 100m final. Still, it’s a fine line between stupid and clever. And first and second.
St Kilda fans feel empty inside
Runners-up in 2009, St Kilda headed into the 2010 AFL Grand Final as underdogs against a Collingwood side that had destroyed the mighty Geelong en route to the big dance. But St Kilda were dogged, and but for a fickle bounce of the ball, Stephen Milne could have run into goal and the match might not have ended in a draw. Collingwood ran amok in the replay, and claimed their first premiership in 20 years. As it stands, they still haven’t won a flag in September since 1958. The 1990 and 2010 triumphs were achieved on the first Saturday in October. So, they don’t really count.
Seiko robs Grant Davies
Aussie Grant Davies had already signed the gold medal register after being initially awarded the K1 1000m rowing event in Seoul. But after more than 10 minutes of deliberations, judges decided American Greg Barton had beaten him by five-thousandths of a second. Did Davies spit the dummy? Did he throw his paddle down in disgust? Nope, he just said: “If this is the worst thing to happen to me, I will have a pretty good life.” When you look up ‘magnanimous’ in the dictionary, there should be a pic of Grant Davies’ smiling mug next to it.
While St Kilda were heartbroken in 2010, the team that beat them in the Grand Final have virtually made an art form of failing on football’s biggest day. Since the second world war, Collingwood have lost grand finals in 1952, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 2002, 2003 and 2011. They’ve won three premierships in the same period (1958, 1990 and 2010), but with a strike rate like that, they’ve broken more hearts than Liz Taylor.
Any great Australian bridesmaids we’ve missed? Leave your suggestions below.