Cup history: Shadow King a lovable loser
THE phrase "as unlucky as Shadow King” can still be heard in racing circles, even though he retired from the track in 1935.
No horse has tackled the Melbourne Cup more times than Shadow King, but he remained firmly a bridesmaid during his career.
In his record six starts in the great race, he finished sixth in 1929, third in 1930 (won by Phar Lap), second in 1931, third in 1932, second in 1933 and fourth in 1935.
Durable Shadow King won a special place in the hearts of the public and was undoubtedly unlucky not to have won at least one of those Cups.
His best chance came in 1933 when he copped severe interference in the run before storming home to be beaten by a head by Hallmark.
In the saddle that day was Scobie Breasley, whose remarkable career included five Caulfield Cups, two English Derbys (among his 2000-odd winners in the UK) and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France, but he never quite cracked it for a Melbourne Cup, twice finishing second.
Breasley retired with few regrets, but the 1933 Cup was one of them.
"I will never forget 1933 on Shadow King in the Melbourne Cup,” he told The Age in 2004, two years before his death at age 92.
"I had a lovely run all through the race, then on the home turn, Jim Pike, who was on Carrington ... he bunched everyone up. I got by far the worst of the interference, but when we got clear, one more stride and I would have won, we were finishing that fast.”
While Phar Lap was the people's champion in that era, Shadow King's record in the Cup gave him a hero-like status and he received a huge ovation when given the honour of leading the field out for his final tilt at the race in 1935.