When South African racehorse Kommetdieding won the July Handicap, one of South Africa’s premier races, his trainer, owner and jockey became household names. The one question that always seemed to be a favourite was how the horse received its name. Owner Ashwin Reyolds explains that Kommetdieding is an actual South African term for “bring it on,” or “I’m not afraid of you,” and as we all know now, Kommetdieding defied the odds to win the historic Durban July and Cape Town Metropolitan double, the two most prestigious races in South Africa.
How are Racehorses Named? There are several methods to name a horse, but one of the most prevalent is to name a horse after its ancestry. Some racehorses are named after one side of their ancestors, while others are named after the mother, or “dam,” and the father, or “sire.” Of course, you always have the exception, like Kommetdieding.
Because no horse may have the same name, owners must be imaginative to develop something unique. Owners are not required to provide a horse’s lineage and name a horse after a favourite area, activity, nickname, term, phrase — or nearly anything else.
Some names may be inspired by pop culture or current events, but owners are not free to name a horse after a natural person. To name a horse after a natural person, permission has to be sought from that person. In the early 1990s, a famous example occurred when a horse in the U.S.A. was named Barbara Bush and consent was received from the first lady herself on the official stationery from her Office.
Naming a Racehorse – The Procedure
The Club’s approval procedure starts when an owner proposes a name. The name will be input into a computer system, and phonetics will be checked to ensure that no other horse has been registered with the same or similar name. Aside from being distinctive, a name must also match a slew of additional criteria, according to the regulation.
Names cannot be wholly composed of initials such as C.O.D. or F.O.B. or comprise of more than 18 characters, including spaces and digits. The owner cannot propose names of racetracks or graded stakes races or names that could be construed as suggestive, offensive, designed to harass or have a vulgar or obscene meaning.
Some names are given “permanent” status by the Club, which means they can never be registered for another horse. This honour is bestowed on the names of the most renowned and successful racehorses, such as California Chrome and Man o’ War.
Regardless of its exact birth date, every thoroughbred racehorse becomes a 2-year-old on the second of January 1, and racehorses require names as 2-year-olds. Trainers and grooms frequently give the horses nicknames or refer to them by their mother’s name and the year they were born before that age.
Naming a Racehorse – Challenging but Lighthearted
Naming a racehorse can be both a fun and a challenging undertaking. A horse must be registered with a unique name that will stay with them for life to race under the rules of the Jockey Club. This differentiates each horse in a race and enables bloodlines and pedigrees to be tracked more readily.
The horse must also be named if the owner intends to breed with it once it has retired from Racing. The horse could either be a broodmare or stallion or, if they wish to register any descendants with Weatherbys, the organization in charge of processing racehorse names.
Weatherby processes and completes the majority of applications within one working day. There are various regulations governing racehorse naming that must be followed to submit a valid name application for a horse:
- A maximum of 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation, may be used in a name.