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The tricky art of naming a racehorse

Lot of requirmenets to be met before Jockey Club says ‘yes’

Gulf News

Ever wondered how thoroughbred race horses are given their sometimes incomprehensible names?

Benny the Dip, Slip Anchor, I’ll Have Another, Mine That Bird, Makybe Diva. I wonder what their owners had in mind when they came up with these names for future Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby and Melbourne Cup winners.

Prior to writing this column, I did not have the luxury of picking up the phone to call the registrar of the Jockey Club to enquire if the upgrade of horse names was part of their overall commitment to the improvement of thoroughbred breeding and racing.

Which perhaps in hindsight, was a good thing.

I’m given to believe that he’s an extremely busy person as he has to sort out close to 40,000 racehorse names each year before he says ‘yes’ or ‘no’.


Jockey Club rules maintain that all thoroughbred racehorses must be named by February of its two-year-old year or a late fee will be charged. Could that be one of the reasons for naming your future Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another?

Six names have to be submitted in order of preference for each horse and the Jockey Club will decide which name the horse can be given. Names can be up to 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation, but there are a lot of dos and don’ts.

For example, you can’t name your horse 007, S.O.S. or Kentucky King. Yes you can’t call her Prettyfilly or Superstud as you can’t have names ending in filly, colt, stud, mare of stallion, or any similar horse-related term.

Then you can’t give your would-be champion a name that will have commercial significance, such as Samsung Supreme or Blackberry Babe; that’s a definite no-no.

Also forget presenting names with vulgar or obscene connotations which are considered in poor taste. The registrar will drop your application in the paper bin nearest to him, as he would do should you propose a name that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups.

List of don’ts

The Jockey Club also stipulates that you should not borrow a name from their restricted list of Hall of Fame members, Eclipse Award winners, Classic winner et al.

The list of DON’TS goes on.

So, what choice do you have but to call your horse something like I Want to Win, My Backstreet Boy, or Bond Ed.

As you can see now, there are a lot of requirements to be met when selecting a horse name. So try coming up with six names for every horse you want to give a moniker to. Having said that, I wonder what names will they give Frankel’s off-springs? Can’t Wait to Find Out… Wait a minute, that’s quite a nice-sounding name, or is it?