What's In A Name?
Racing, without doubt, has its collection of archaid tweed-clad fuddy duddies at the helm and one of thej 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 no horse should be run whose name may offend the more genteel of racegoers so its 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 race course 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 were, 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 which show a little subtlety or the 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 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 Four 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 to come out with lines like "This horse has proved to be a real handful" and "needed plenty of support"? They were besides 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 associated with; Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Joe Blob and the surely unbeatable Mary Hinge.
(June 2009). L Markham sent us the following contribution.
I read your article in Eclipse Magazine on June 22, 2009 entitled, "What's In A Name".
It reminded me of a British thoroughbred who ran back in 2004 named Shaghur Raughton. It may have been one word with no spaces, Shaghuraughton. I can't remember for certain now. It would be prounounced "Shag Her Rotten". That is one wild name that definitely got under the radar in the UK. I bet the British race callers had a field day with that one!