It would be hardly any surprise to racegoers that the majority of second reserves in major race finals never manage to get a start, let alone go on and win. Yet when they do manage to fluke a start, it’s quite amazing how many of them manage to perform above expectations.
On Friday night July 7, the Robert Britton-trained Landmark wore the red, white and blue striped rug of number 10 and exited box one to score a bullocking victory in the Group 2 Bendigo Cup.
While comprehensive records just don’t exist, it looks as though Landmark’s win is the first by a second reserve in a group final in Victoria, but the second in Australia.
As far as I’m aware, the first greyhound to take out a Group race while wearing the number 10 rug was Suave Fella in a roughly run 2008 Gosford Gold Cup (Group 2). Suave Fella exited box seven in that final after the scratching of Mister Jaydee.
In the year before it was accorded Group 3 status, the 2012 Nowra Spring Puppy Classic was reduced to seven runners with three scratchings, allowing the two reserves to gain a start. The winner was Amadeus Strikes, the second reserve, who exited box six to score by almost three lengths in a race record 29.93.
Quite a few rug number 10 wearers have come close to victory in major races.
The most recent was in the 2015 Albion Park Gold Cup (Group 1) when Mullaway, sporting the red-white-and-blue rug, missed out by just half a length when second to Dzeko.
In the 2007 Chairman’s Cup the brilliant Miagi was one of two scratchings and the replacement was Just Friends who exited box six and finished a two and a half lengths second behind high-flying Victorian stayer Flashing Floods.
In 1999, the McKenna Memorial final was reduced to seven runners by three scratchings. Tanami, the second reserve from box seven, almost snatched the race, finishing a mere half-head second to the great Queensland stayer Kobble Creek.
Rounding out the list of second placings in major races when a second reserve is the effort of local stayer Lilac Livery in the 1989 Sydney Cup. Victorian stayer Rules won the event by a length from Lilac Livery. The champion Victorian stayer Bold Trease was sixth.
A couple of second reserves have also finished third in major races. The most recent was in the 2017 Northern Districts Cup, a listed race run over 450 metres at Shepparton. Rapana gained a run from box two following the scratching of Hi Ho Geronimo and managed to pick up third prize money, beaten almost nine lengths by Sure To Excite and Don Lesta.
Back in 1978, the final of the Wentworth Park Gold Cup (722 metres) was won by the champion stayer Kawati Boy in race record time. He won by five lengths from Graceful Gem with the second reserve Incredible Lass two and a half lengths further back in third position. The first reserve, Mingaletto, finished fourth.
NOTE: the above list may well be incomplete and I would appreciate knowing of any winners or placegetters I may have missed over the years.