Everyday Lettuce

There are 3105 names that cannot be used again by any IFHA signatory.

The original Rising Fast

The original Rising Fast – Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup treble in the same year

Imagine turning up for your average Class Five opener each race meeting, only to see Frankel, Black Caviar, Secretariat, Horse Chestnut and Dubai Millennium battling it out in a plodding finish.

The uproar from racing fans across the world would be immense and it would only be a matter of time before they would be forced into new, more suitable, names – like our new favourite this week, Everyday Lettuce.

Wednesday night’s Happy Valley card saw a Benno Yung Tin-pang debutant attract plenty of attention abroad, despite the fact he finished a distant last, simply because of his name.

Kiwi import Rising Fast stepped out in the Volunteers Challenge Cup but could not keep up and finished almost 12 lengths behind tearaway leader Oriental Prosper .

Normally, such a run would ensure the horse attracts little attention until he shows something more, but with a name like Rising Fast, the backlash was immediate – especially in Australia and New Zealand, where his namesake was a 1950s champion.

The original Rising Fast, bred and raced in New Zealand but finding his best success in Australia, may not be as well known as greats like Phar Lap, Carbine or Kingston Town.

His place in history is assured, though, as the only horse to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup treble in the same year, taking all three in 1954. A year later, he won the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate and was unlucky not to add to the Melbourne Cup again when an second to Toporoa.

Only one other horse, Might And Power, has won all three races, taking the Cups double in 1997 before adding the Cox Plate in 1998.

Rising Fast has a place in the Racing Hall of Fame on both sides of the Tasman and is recognised as one of the best horses to emerge out of New Zealand.

So how is a horse allowed to be named after one of the stars of the turf – and what’s to stop horses being named after some of racing’s legends?

A starting point is the list of protected names produced by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), which is updated yearly.

For horses who raced before 1996, there is the broad and rather vague description that a horse with a protected name must have been “internationally renowned, either as main stallions and broodmares or as champions in racing, either on the flat or over jumps”.

From 1996 to 2004, the winners of nine international races – the Japan Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini and the Gran Premio Brazil – had their names automatically protected.

From 2005 onwards, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was removed while the Hong Kong Cup, Dubai World Cup and Irish Champion Stakes were added.


Dubawi – added last year

The International Stud Book Committee can request for prominent stallions and broodmares to be protected – Dubawi, Fastnet Rock and Street Cry were added this year, while the dam of Frankel and Noble Mission, Kind, was one of five mares included.

And any individual jurisdiction can request individual horses to be added, which is how a horse like Kingston Town came to be added in 2014.

All up, there are 3105 names that cannot be used again by any IFHA signatory.

There are flaws with this system, though. Take 1995 Melbourne Cup winner Doriemus, who then finished second by the narrowest of margins behind Might And Power in 1997 – his name is not protected, while the name ‘Might And Power’ is.

Still, there needs to be some discretion, and a name like Rising Fast is surely one that should not be repeated.

It may not be as bad as the South African owners who named a horse Black Caviar while the original, the great Australian mare, was still racing – and as such, her name was yet to be protected.

But it still seems disrespectful to Australasian racing to allow a horse to carry the Rising Fast name.

If common sense prevails, Rising Fast will turn up next start with a far more ridiculous name, but with a piece of racing history preserved.


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