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Second again: John Betjeman (right) finishes runner-up to Khan at Plumpton in 2021 Credit: Alan Crowhurst

Seconditis: the record-holder who was runner-up 34 times – and the current star who could take his ‘crown’

Paul Fielder (Racing Post)

The gallant runner-up. Seconditis. At the end of the day something has got to finish second, but some are better at it than others.

Counting only races in Britain, Dvinsky is the daddy of them all. Under numerous trainers, the son of Stravinsky managed to finish runner-up on 34 occasions, including 13 times on Kempton’s all-weather track. He admittedly had more opportunity than most to finish second, having run 231 times in his career, and reached a peak official rating of 90.

Most of the others in the top ten of combined Flat and jumps runner-up finishers in Britain have long since retired, although the 13-year-old Indian Affair (27) called it a day only last year, and the 11-year-old Red Stripes (26) last ran in January and looks unlikely to add to his tally given he has run 30 times since his most recent second-place finish.

Indian Affair represented Milton Bradley for most of his career and the late trainer was also responsible for The Tatling, who managed 28 second-place finishes, 24 of which came in Britain.

But there is an active contender who could yet give Dvinsky a run for his money. John Betjeman has an impressive record of 21 runner-up finishes from 57 starts (a strike-rate, of sorts, of 36 per cent) on the Flat and over jumps, and is still only a seven-year-old.

The well-named son of Poet’s Voice started his career as he meant to go on by finishing second in a 5f conditions race at Bath in 2018, when trained by Bill Turner, and has managed a further six runner-ups on the Flat.

Now trained by Mark Gillard, who gave him his first start over hurdles, John Betjeman finished second on his jumps debut at Fontwell in 2019 and has gone on to record a further 13 runner-up finishes over the smaller obstacles, including in four out of five starts at Wincanton. He has an identical record on the Flat at Salisbury, while the trainer’s son Fergus has been particularly unlucky having finished second ten times from 19 rides on the gelding.

John Betjeman has won three times, all over jumps, and has run into one too good for him in five of his last nine outings. Assuming he has another five or six years of staying sound, there is every chance he can move up the list – he is operating at close to his best BHA rating over jumps – or even usurp Dvinsky.