Tom Melbourne: A History Of Second Place Finishes

He’s living his best life out on the farm at Living Legends these days but Tom Melbourne was one of the most enigmatic, and popular horses to hit the race track in recent times.

Sometimes being known for more than just your racing ability stamps your place in history and racing folklore more than simply being fast.

Winx, Sunline, Octagonal, Makybe Diva and the like will all be forgotten in time. But not Tom Melbourne. People will be talking about him for decades (bloody centuries) to come.

“At the turn of the century there was a little horse called Tom Melbourne that actually finished second 26 times in a row,” future me, over exaggerating at 78 years old, with my grandson on my lap will probably say.

He actually finished second 14 times in his 51 career race starts but let’s not let that get in the way of a good (future) story.

We’ve gone through all of his runner up finishes in order below.

27th August 2016 – Listed Heatherlie Handicap

Tom Melbourne won five of his first eight race starts and it wasn’t until his ninth start that he finished second for the first time.

He was beaten 1.25 lengths by a horse called Great Esteem… WTF did it ever do?

Well, he ran second in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap behind He’s Our Rokkii two starts later. 

Fitting really.

15th October 2016 – Group 3 Coongy Handicap

Just three starts later he would run second for the second time.

He was beaten half a length by Vanbrugh at Group 3 level.

Although he didn’t get the chocolates, thousands of punters across the country agreed they had found one for the future, some even making the horrible (in hindsight) decision to add him to their blackbook.

29th October 2016 – Group 3 Lexus Stakes  

“He’ll win the Cup”, punters shouted to anyone that would listen after Tom Melbourne finished a very game second to Oceanographer in the classic Melbourne Cup lead up race.

Who knows, had Tom Melbourne gained a start in our great race, he may have given it a shake!

And run second.

12th August 2017 – Spring Preview Handicap

This second really kick started the Tom Melbourne era.

To many, the Spring of 2017 will not be remembered for Winx continuing her incredible winning streak culminating in her third Cox Plate win. 

Tom Melbourne was narrowly beaten first up by Kingsguard over 1400m to start his incredible spring campaign.

2nd September 2017 – Group 2 Tramway Stakes 

He then ran second to Happy Clapper.

Beaten just under a length.

16th September 2017 – Group 3 Ritchie Handicap 

He was then beaten a lip by Comin’ Through at Group 3 level.

30th September 2017 – Group 1 Epsom Handicap

Instead of putting an easy win on the board when he was clearly flying, Chris Waller decided to chuck him into the deep end and attempt to win his first Group 1 with just the 52kg.

At the 400 meters, he looked no chance but with the lightweight, he started making up considerable ground, weaving his way through horses.

After all the ridicule and jokes at his expense, it looked like Tom Melbourne may just have the last laugh by winning his maiden Group 1!

If it was any other horse bar the tough as nails Happy Clapper, the story may have been different.

But it wasn’t. 

4th November 2017 – Group 1 Cantala Stakes

This was the day that Tom Melbourne would win.

There wasn’t a punter (with any bollocks anyway) that was not on the Tom Melbourne train this day.

He would start $5.00 second favourite (behind Tosen Stardom) with a huge amount of support in betting throughout the week.

The race will go down in racing folklore and cap a phenomenal spring campaign. Five seconds in a row by under a length.

17th March 2018 – Group 2 Ajax Stakes

How did Tom Melbourne return to the races in the Autumn?

You guessed it. He finished second. Again by a lip to Comin’ Through

5th May 2018 – Group 2 Hollindale Stakes 

Much like Black Caviar, and I’m sure this is not the first time Tom Melbourne was compared to the great mare, he would take his talents all over the country.

This time it was sunny Queensland where he would finish second behind Oregon’s Day.

1st September 2018 – Group 2 Tramway Stakes

Tom Melbourne would go back to back in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes.

Back to back seconds that is. 

It was deja vu as he was beaten by Comin’ Through by the official margin of 0.2 lengths for the third time. 

27th April 2019 – Group 3 Hawkesbury Cup

Beaten half a length by Archedemus.

11th May 2019 – Listed Members’ Handicap

For the third time in his career he would finish second twice (or more) times in a row.

Archedemus would again spoil (or continue) the party.

25th May 2019 – Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup

Queensland would get the full Tom Melbourne treatment when he ran second for the third time in a row in this prep.

Order Again won by three quarters of a length in this contest.

Unfortunately for all concerned, this would be the 14th, and last time, Tom Melbourne would finish second.

He promised big things when he headed to Perth to finish out his career.

He finished 6th and 9th in his only two runs.

He finished his career with a record of 51 starts for 6:14:4 and despite collected the runner-up cheque on so many occasions, he won over $1.4 million in prize money.

He will now finish his career at Living Legends with many other superstars of the turf.