July 2020

Serial Losers

There are no winners without losers, so it stands to reason that for anyone involved in the sport of horse racing losing is a fact of life. Even so, every now and then a horse comes along that, for whatever reason, makes losing not so much a fact of life as a way of life.

In Britain, the granddaddy of them all in that respect was Quixall Crossett, trained by Ted Caine, who made 103 starts under the Rules of Racing between February, 1990 and November, 2001 without once visiting the winners’ enclosure; he troubled the judged just eight times, finishing second twice and third six times, and his career earnings amounted to just £8,502. Towards the end of his career, Ted Caine said of Quixall Crossett, ‘He is one-paced and hasn’t got a lot of gears’, while the Racing Post was less forgiving, describing the horse as ‘a seriously slow maiden’.

In fairness, Quixall Crossett cannot be blamed for his innate lack of ability and a similar comment applies to the likes of Elsich, a.k.a. ‘The Arkle of Awfulness’, in the Forties and Polly’s Pet in the Sixties, who racked up 50 and 94 consecutive losses, respectively, under Rules. However, in the Eighties and early Nineties, Amrullah turned losing into an art form, not through lack of ability, but through lack of resolution. Described as a ‘crafty character’ by his trainer John Bridger, Amrullah failed to win all 74 starts and, for much of his career, bore a badge of shame, in the form of the infamous ‘§§’, or ‘double squiggle’ alongside his Timeform rating. Even so, his career earnings amounted to over £26,000, so what he might have done if consenting to put his best foot forward is anyone’s guess.