When Naming Your Racehorse There Are A few Things You Should Definitely Consider!
I have to admit that I have always had and always will have a weakness when it comes to horse racing.
I am not a gambler so, wagering my hard-earned money on a flutter at the racecourse was never really for me. It was merely the thrill of seeing twenty or so finely tuned athletes burst out of the gates, measuring their stride throughout the race and then hearing the thunder of hooves galloping down the final straight.
I grew into the sport after creating a division within our advertising agency where we spent bucket loads of our client’s cash promoting the virtues of stallions and their aristocratic bloodlines.
When economic times were good, owners would clamber to have their broodmares serviced by the ‘hot’ stallion of the day whose progeny were winning on the track as 2 and 3-year-olds. With service fees sometimes upwards of an eye- watering $250,000, offering no guarantees that the resulting foal would become a champion, one can understand why they refer to this pastime as the ‘Sport of Kings’.
A Racehorse is truly a thing of beauty; Their strength, agility and speed set them apart from all other mammals. They are majestic beasts no more so than when prancing around the ‘birdcage’ before a race where they almost resemble ballerinas warming up before a performance of Swan Lake.
Throughout the history of horse racing, numerous champions have been born - some famous for their multiple wins and staggering purses, their impressive lineage and at times the ability to raise the spirits of a nation.
New Zealand-bred Phar Lap (meaning "lightning" in Thai) became a national icon in Australia, where he primarily raced during his four-year career. The monstrous horse measured a staggering 17.1 hands high while his heart weighed 13.7 pounds, significantly more compared to the average horse heart weight of just 9 pounds.
Phar Lap was a distracting influence for millions suffering the crippling years of the great depression. Crowds turned out in their thousands to cheer on his 37 wins across 51 races, setting eight track records along the way before his mysterious death in 1932 after suddenly becoming ill while on tour in America. Many speculated that U.S. gangsters, fearing the champion would trigger big losses for their illegal bookies, poisoned him.
Here are a few of the true greats;
Secretariat. Born in 1970 was considered "too pretty" to be a good racehorse. During his first season in 1972, he proved the early doubters wrong, claiming eight consecutive victories and becoming the first of only two 2-year-olds to ever be crowned Horse of the Year. The following year, he won the Triple Crown and took the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, in a new world record time which still stands today, along with his record set at the Kentucky Derby.
Secretariat was mourned by millions following his death in 1989, and given the rare honour of being buried whole - normally, just the head, heart and hooves are laid to rest. Secretariat's heart alone weighed around 22 pounds, nearly twice the size of a normal horse!
Some racing fans rank Citation in the same breath as Man O' War, if not higher. Born in 1945, Citation entered the track two years later and won his very first race in Havre de Grace, Maryland. The 1948 Triple Crown winner also became the first U.S. horse to win over one million dollars.
Dwayne Wallace, Chairman of the Cessna Aircraft Company, was so inspired by the horse he selected the name "Citation" for the company’s new business jet.
In a rush of blood to the head (well several as I did it three times) I invested in syndicates who owned expensive pieces of horseflesh.
We had moderate success but the fun part was naming the horse that would ride in our colours.
We were a rather conservative lot with our choice of names unlike others, some of whom chose some extremely bizarre monikers for their progeny over the years.
Here are a few tales that may amuse;
Just last year a promising filly born in 2016 was given the name Covfefe, an unknown word used by President Donald Trump in one of his infamous and unintelligent tweets. Covfefe had an impressive debut, winning her maiden race at Churchill Downs and going on to win the Group 1 Frizette at Belmont Park. She has not been heard of since so hopefully this might be a good omen for those not particularly fond of the current sitting president.
The "Fifty Shades" trilogy inspired the owners of a filly in the USA to bestow upon her the name, Fiftyshadesofhay She lived up to her name by winning over $1 million in prize money in just two years.
The British Racing Body goes to great lengths to try and prevent owners from giving their horses ‘saucy’ names, Occasionally, one or two do slip through the net such as a French thoroughbred who raced in England with the rather flamboyant name, ‘Big Titties.’ The name didn’t bother the French but on the other side of the channel, the crowds at Ascot were a little perturbed!
So, here are a few names that the Racing Authorities managed to head off at the pass;
If you say the name slowly, with a break between the two words, this doesn’t seem like such a scandalous name but try saying it quickly, as a racing commentator would do. and it takes on a completely different meaning.
These are best read aloud to understand the Racing Authority’s somewhat prudish ban on the mischievous names submitted;
OIL BEEF HOOKED
And, my absolute favourite;
AFUR FOULKESSAYCKE !
I'll end this piece with this rather unlikely tale about two thoroughbreds with unusual names who happened to find themselves pitted against each other in the same race.
Mywifenosevrything Vs Thewifedoesntknow
These two horses ran against each other on Aug. 22nd 200 at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park. They moved in tandem around the final turn heading for home and crossed the finish line together…. Dead-heat!
Paul v Walters is the best selling author of several novels. When he is not cocooned in sloth and procrastination in his house in Bali, he occasionally rises to scribble for several international travel and vox pop journals.
His latest novel, Festes, will be published in late 2020.