The world’s worst racehorse? Meet Vote for Lust

Story highlights

Vote for Lust failed to win a single race in 90 appearances before his recent retirement

Ranked as Australia's worst racehorse -- by some distance

Horse recently retired and now is being ridden by the owner's granddaughter

There was once talk of a one-sided showdown with Aussie great Black Caviar

CNN  — 

Even in retirement Black Caviar – arguably Australia’s most celebrated racehorse with 25 victories from 25 starts – shows no sign of fading from the media glare.

Only recently the mare grabbed plenty of headlines after a statue was erected in her honor.

But another equine retirement in recent weeks has passed without quite the same fanfare – Vote for Lust being put out to pasture.

Vote for Lust is the cart horse to super mare Black Caviar.

“He’s just really, really bad,” the horse’s owner and trainer John Castleman told CNN. “He just doesn’t go fast.”

Retirement came after its 90th run out – ninety rides that came and went without a solitary victory.

For all his lack of pace and panache on the race track – Vote for Lust’s career fittingly ended with him being 12-and-a-half lengths off the pace in his racing finale – he has enjoyed something of a cult following in Australia, with both a Facebook and Twitter page set up in his name.

Vote for Lust is indisputably Australia’s worst race horse, with his closest rival being Jordi, who had 67 starts without a win.

As for laying claim to being the world’s worst, Vote for Lust is in with a good shout, although he has some serious competition.

British horse Quixall Crossett was the first thoroughbred to lose 100 races in England in 2000 while the American horse Zippy Chippy also went 100 races without a win and also even lost a race with a minor-league baseball player.

Fan favorite

But even Vote for Lust’s owner and trainer John Castleman struggles to believe that there could possibly be a worse horse on the planet.

Despite the track record of ignominy, Castleman admitted that hundreds of suitors had been lining up to buy this Australian underachiever after his retirement was announced.

But family came first for Castleman, who gave Vote for Lust to his 14-year-old granddaughter.

She is able to give him the sort of slow-speed riding that the 10-year-old specialized on the race course during his career.

During Vote for Lust’s career punters laid all manner of bets on him to win – all to no avail – though Castleman was wily enough never to dip into his pocket to back the ultimate no hoper.

“He’s beaten one or two out there at home but never in a race,” said Castleman.

Twice on Melbourne Cup day, Vote for Lust ran in a two-horse race and on each occasion came home a distant second.

His last realistic chance for victory came at the Horsham Maiden in June 2009, a race specifically for horses that have never won. True to form Vote for Lust was nowhere to be seen at the winning post.

Sociable horse

Even jockey Glenn Boss – a three-time Melbourne Cup winner – could not get anything out of the luckless horse in a one-off outing.

With the horse sponsored by the betting company Betfair, Boss was brought in to ride him in his 87th outing in a public relations gimmick.

“There was a point where I thought ‘here we go’, but that lasted all of about 100 meters before his usual canter kicked in,” said Boss, who attributed Lust for Last’s lack of competitiveness to his amiability.

“He likes the outing but he’s sociable and just wants to stay in the pack with his mates. If he could have a beer and a steak sandwich, I reckon he would.”

At the time, the jockey was asked if he felt Vote for Lust might finally pull off a victory in what was then the twilight of his career. His answer was, “never say never,” though Castleman’s assessment, admittedly with a chuckle, was more brutal – “never.”

There is a certain parental pride from the owner in just how bad Vote for Lust was.

“If he’d have won that would have been no good would it?” he said. “Anyway, it just was not meant to be.”

In the yard, he was known as either ‘Bogey’ or ‘Lusty’ although Castleman admitted: “There might have been other names too depending on what sort of mood I was in!”

Australians love a trier and to his credit there were times when Vote for Lust showed a glimmer of form – usually in adverse weather conditions.

“There were a couple of occasions early on in his career when the rain was lashing down and he just kept on ploughing through. I thought he might have done it then. When he didn’t do it then, I think I knew he’d never do it.”

Calm nature

So why did Castleman keep on entering him in races?

“Well, horses don’t pay for themselves do they?” said Vote for Lust’s owner. “And anyway he’d still pick up some money for his places which would cover his feed and keep really.”

For all the negativity about his racing prowess, or lack of it, Vote for Lust was invaluable as a horse for all occasions away from the track.

“He was good to have around the place, he was everyone’s mate,” said Castleman.

“He was quiet as hell and we’d take him to partner horses. He was so good natured, the calming influence on the more jittery horses. He just did everything you’d ever ask of him, that is apart from going fast.

“When we were breaking in horses, we’d have him tied up at the side and he’d just calm everyone down. He’s just a bloody good bloke. For us, he was gold dust.”

At races, Vote for Lust would welcome bigger crowds than the faster more successful horses.

“He’s got quite a cult following, don’t you worry about that,” added Castleman.

“Everyone would want to get his picture taken with him. It’s crazy to think someone put him on the internet and he ended up with hundreds of people following him.

“Just as he retired, we had seven radio stations ring up for interviews, and people rang up asking if he was for sale. He’s much loved, just sadly not for the right reasons.”

Equine genealogy

Vote for Lust would still be racing had it not been for an abscess on his foot. Castleman had hoped to take him to at least 100 runs, after which he planned to host some sort of a party. In the end, that was not to be.

As for how he might have fared against Black Caviar, Castleman is certain that would have definitely have been a one horse race.

“There was a suggestion that he’d challenge Black Caviar in a race,” said Castleman. “That would have been the mother of all mismatches.”

It is just a few weeks since he handed over the horse to his granddaughter, and he readily admits he misses having him around the place.

But there is the potential for someone to follow in his footsteps.

He has a half-sister and half-brother in Castleman’s stable.

The latter has been named ‘He Ain’t My Brother’ to distance himself from his equine genealogy.

Despite that, he can’t quite break the family shackles. In his few races to date, he has yet to taste victory.

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