This is the story of possibly the world's most unsuccessful race horse. A real no-hoper. His name is Quixall Crossett, and even though he's never come near the winner's enclosure in all his ninety nine races... here in Britain, he's becoming a bit of a national hero.
Ted and Joy Caine bred the horse. They live and work on the family farm up north ... in the wilds of North Yorkshire, not far from where Wuthering Heights was written and set. They haven't got much money and they don't make much either. On the weekend, just like their neighbours, they used to take their favourite horses to the local races. When Quixall Crossett was born, Joy Caine, who's a good judge of horseflesh, described him as a "bit of an ugly duckling". But the stud fee had only been seventy five dollars to a friend and as the horse was living on the farm he didn't cost much to look after ... so they kept him, trained him and started taking him to the races. It was a disaster. A journalist friend of mine who saw Quixall in one of his early outings described him as "seriously slow", and really, that would have been the end of this particular story if tragedy hadn't intervened.
The Caines' son Malcolm was killed in an accident on the farm. For a while Ted and Joy found life almost impossible to cope with, but the animals still demanded care and feeding. And Quixall Crossett was already entered in several races. So, the Caineses suppressed their grief and took the horse along. Simply going through the whole process helped Ted and Joy deal with the death of their son. And then suddenly the horse began to improve. But not that much! The Ugly Duckling hasn't yet become a swan. This coming Sunday, Quixall Crossett will run his one hundredth race at Southwell in the north of England. And he'll probably come last. But there's going to be a lot of sentimental old fools like me, who'll put a few dollars on the horse with no hope. Because hope is precisely what he's given his owners.
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