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A Tribute to Thirsk Racecourse  Telephone:   01845 522276 today's date  Fri 14 Dec 2018
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Horse Racing - What You Can't Name Your Horse -
By D J Bromley

In horse racing names have always been contentious whether it be the name of a horse or the owner. Back in Victorian times it was not unusual for owners to hide their true identity behind a non de plume. In the past several Classic winners such as the 1879 Derby winner Sir Bevys ran under the ownership of a "Mr Acton" but who it transpired was actually Leopold de Rothchild who took the pseudonym from an area of London where he owned a stud.

The practice of owners using a non de plume was eventually banned under Rule 40 of the Rules of Racing.

This banned any owner using an assumed name when entering a horse in a race with the penalty being disqualification. There are not only rules about the names of owners; in the UK there are also certain rules that have to be obeyed when naming a race horse.

When a young horse first goes to a new stable it does not have to be named and can simply be known as the Sea the Stars colt or the Workforce mare. However, it does have to have its name registered with Wetherbys before it races for the first time. Wetherbys is the organisation that runs the administration of UK horse racing on behalf of the British Horse Racing Board.

Any proposed names that are considered to be obscene, scurrilous or in bad taste will be rejected. If the horse is going to be named after a living person their permission is needed before it can be approved. Most owners try and find a name which links the horses Sire and Dam. For instance if the sire was Fire Rocket and the dam Washington Place then the foal might be called Fire Place. Names containing more than 18 letters and spaces are not permitted which must be a great relief to race commentators.

Once ever two years Wetherby publish a list of names that may not be used for racehorses. Most of these are names of horses already in training. There are also the names of certain horses that have won one of the Classic or Group One races or the Grand National. The names of these big race winners may never be used by other horses and are barred for reuse in perpetuity. There are also one or two great horses that do not fall into the above category but also have their names protected for ever and these include the great and prolific National Hunt winner Arkle and the American Champion from the 1919 Man o'War.

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