What’s in a Name?

Racing, without doubt, has its collection of archaic tweed-clad fuddy duddies at the helm and one of the jobs of one of the minor functionaries of the Jockey Club is to ensure that every horse which runs under the Rules of Racing doesn’t have an inappropriate name. 

By this, they mean no horse should be run whose name may offend the more genteel racegoers, so it’s the job of some grey Jobsworth deep in the bowels of some grey basement somewhere to go through the submitted names of all newly-named animals and to approve them.

And, so, the fun begins. What else better than to name a horse so that it passes this ancient fossil’s attentions and to have the announcer at the racecourse call out a most risque name? Quite clearly there is a game going on here between the owners and trainers and against the establishment and, as a rule we love it when a fantasically-named horse gets through.

The Jockey Club was, perhaps rightly, taken to task for allowing WearTheFoxHat to be passed as it gave the commentator nightmares when trying to call the race and not get himself arrested under the Public Decency Act of 1974.

In our opinion, the best-named horses are the ones that show a little subtlety or downright daring.

There is a horse running at the moment who has just been gelded, and it is clear that it was going to be gelded sometime in the creature’s career when it was given the name Noble Locks (phonetically ‘No Bollocks’) and obviously got past the octogenerian in Portman Square because he wasn’t up with modern day speech (i.e. anything new, hip and crazy to hit the streets after the Relief of Mafeking).

Sometimes commentators revel in these escaped names. A couple of years ago there was a manufacturer who had a horse they called FourtyTwoDoubleDee. Nothing untoward there until one realises that this company’s sole business is to make ladies’ foundation garments. The commentating team on Channel 4 had a field day when this horse broke clear of the pack with about a furlong to go and was going to go on to win. How long had they waited for the opportunity to come out with lines like “This horse has proved to be a real handful” and “needed plenty of support”? They were beside themselves trying to get as many double-entrendes in as possible and it certainly made for excellent listening at home.

But the champion in naming horses has to be, without a shadow of doubt, Julie Cecil. How we would dearly love her to take up a trainer’s licence again and to do battle with the Jockey Club naming committee once more. Julie Cecil came up with two names with which the dear departed Reverend Spooner would immediately be enthralled; Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Joe Blob and the surely unbeatable Mary Hinge.

By [email protected]


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