Game Of The Name

Something in the order of 130 of the 537 yearlings catalogued for the weekend’s National Yearling Sale are unnamed. If classic names are your thing, rather buy one of those as we believe that changing a horse’s existing name is bad luck.
No foundation theory could be traced to back up the superstition as to why changing a horse’s name is bad luck. It seems to date back to the days when sailors would not get aboard a ship whose name had been changed.


Well named horses with classy names win the big races and go on to great things. Let’s face it. Had the legendary Frankel not been named after the renowned and late American trainer Bobby Frankel, and called something like Hoof Hearted, how stupid would our history and stud books have looked twenty years from now?
On Saturday the Brett Crawford trained 2yo De Kock makes his debut at Kenilworth. By Dynasty out of Sharp Performer, he is bred and raced by Wilgerbosdrift Stud and is out of the Al Mufti mare, Sharp Performer. That is very cleverly named, but will he need gelding to show his very best?
Locally we like to name them after colloquial names for alcoholic drinks too – Spook and Diesel was a famous one, but recently we’ve had the rather moderate Green Tractor and KZN trainer Paul Lafferty raced a horse named in honour of his favourite beverage.
He was called Kokorot Sop. On form he may have left a bit of a bad after taste, but Goat was not half bad and ended up a Gr2 winner. Lafferty also raced the unkindly named Donkey, Mule, Chicken and I’m No Tortoise.  Glen Kotzen trained a good staying filly called Mary Hinge (it’s a spoonerism). Charismatic KZN based owner Raymond Deacon races a nice filly called Pistol Dawn.


The National Horseracing Authority of South Africa is supposed to disallow names that are defamatory, derogatory or offensive, but it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair. At times they appear to be somewhat inconsistent, or out of touch with world matters and the whole issue to be fair them is subjective a lot of the time.
For the record, the National Horseracing Authority rules specify which names may be rejected:
  1. Those consisting of more than 18 characters, including punctuation marks and/or spaces, save that 18 characters may be exceeded when a country code suffix is required;
  2. Those of well-known people, save where written permission is obtained from the individual or the descendants of the individual concerned, by the person seeking to register  the name;
  3. Those on the International or National List of Protected Names;
  4. Those containing numbers or initials or a combination of numbers and initials;
  5. Those of a similar spelling or pronunciation to those already registered.
  6. Those in bad taste or which have an unacceptable connotation in another language;
  7. Prominent company, product or trade names, except with the written approval of the company or body associated with the name.


In South Africa, our Champion breeders Summerhill Stud started a fashion of naming their horses with Zulu names.
Think Igugu. Think Imbongi. Think Smanjemanje. Just three examples of many. It seems to work for them.
We put a lot of emphasis on BEE(Black Economic Empowerment in case you have been on the moon for the past twenty years)  in this country and there is a Grooms Consortium at Maine Chance farms who like to prefix their progeny with the word Woza (Woza Friday, Woza Weekend, etc).
They bred a Black Minnaloushe that they wanted to name Woza Blackie and apparently the NHA  said no.  But they happily accepted Gollywog .
Locally we had a pretty (but not too fast) colt named Campbell (by Lake Coniston) named after Sir Donald Campbell who had  been sadly killed on Coniston Water a split second before breaking his own water speed record in 1967.


But there are some very clever names too. The Australians had a Sydney horse called ‘Of Two Cities’.  The breeding was Bold Tale out of Lucie Manette (Lucie being a character in the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities).  However, the horse had virtually no tail, so instead of being called Tale of Two Cities, it was left with ‘no tale’.
Then there was Three Swallows – by Stravinsky out of champion NZ  racemare Horlicks. Lasoron from Brisbane was another clever one.
It was by Oarsman out of Show Justice and the name backwards is No Ro Sal (after the Olympic rower Sally Robbins) who stopped rowing in the final of the women’s eights.
Funnily enough, the horse was apparently pulled up by the rider in one of its races because he felt there was something amiss or that it did just not want to race.  What a coincidence.


There was a filly called ‘Oh My God’ (her sire was Foreplay).  A colt named ‘Most Husbands’ out of a dam called  ‘No Say’  and a filly called ‘Prove It’ out of True Blond!
The Aussies  also had a Richard Cranium which was very popular. The Kiwis have had Pistol Knight, Jack Doff, Waikikamukau, Esra Star (read it backwards), Norfolk Enchants, Leica Snatch, Far Call, Buck Knuckle, Jessica Stitz, Pyfo (pull your finger out) and OOVII (which was supposed to be 007, but you can imagine how that worked out). The list is endless. There is Pat The Horse, and the Americans also have  ‘My Wife Doesn’t Know’  and  ‘My Wife Knows Everything.’  A  horse called Bodacious Tatas ran in the Kentucky Derby.


After names, we could go onto colouring. The saying goes: “One white foot – buy a horse; Two white feet – try a horse; Three white feet – look well about him; Four white feet – do without him.”
However, the Bedouins, the nomadic horse warriors of the Eastern deserts, believed that a four-stockinged horse was lucky.
That is provided that the white markings didn’t extend above the knee in front, and the fetlock on the hind legs. For them, the unluckiest horses were those without any white hairs, and duns without dorsal stripes.
Go find your champion.
More details about the National Yearling Sale 2013

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