The Naming Process - By Cornelius Lysaght

The Naming Process - By Cornelius Lysaght

The recent passing at the grand old age of 100 of Henry Kissinger, probably the highest profile diplomat in modern American history, of course made headlines around the world. 

However while the mountains of obituary carefully recorded the best known roles Dr Kissinger took in all kinds of international events as US Secretary of State in the 1970s and more, his significance to British horseracing at that time slipped through the net. 

Because there was a prolific chaser named Henry Kissinger, representing the successful trainer/jockey combination of David Gandolfo – the so-called Wizard of Wantage – and his first-choice rider Paul Barton, which became a tremendous favourite, winning the Badger Beers Chase at Wincanton in 1980 and, the following season, what is now the Paddy Power Gold Cup, then the Mackeson, at Cheltenham. 

Businessman Adam Kidd and his wife Hilary, the breeders and initially the owners of the equine Henry, were big admirers of the statesman Henry, who was in the headlines practically all the time in those days, and they went to great efforts to secure his name.  

The Rules of Racing state that if a horse is to be named after a real person, he or she must give their blessing to the request. 

While there is an element of flattery about the possibility of having your name emanating from loudspeakers and echoing around racecourses, especially if the commentator can enthusiastically include a phrase like ‘striding clear in tremendous style’, if the accompanying words are more along the lines of ‘tailed off and pulled up’, the compliment could end up feeling decidedly back-handed.

I seem to recall that the jockey-turned-journalist and TV presenter Brough Scott agreed to share his name with a hurdler that only occasionally managed to get round in its races and even then at a very slow pace.

To comply, the Kidds wrote off to the State Department in Washington DC, and eventually Dr Kissinger – admittedly, never one famous for being backward in coming forward – replied with his agreement, and Weatherbys allowed them to go ahead. 

History doesn’t relate if the horse’s career was followed from across the Atlantic but he turned out to be yet another runner christened with a memorable and/or powerful name that lived up to it, as they often seem to. 

Opulence runners regularly have names that fall into that category, and it’s good to see that tradition applies once again for the latest recruits: for example Captain Harry, to be trained by Andrew Balding, sounds the part, while I can hear in my mind’s ear ITV’s Richard Hoiles describing either of the William Haggas yearlings, Blue Billie or Silver Chamber, storming home to famous victories. 

Having a decent back story is always good too: owners Tony and Lena came up with Middleton View and Bridget’s View, honouring Lena’s parents, and while Middleton is sadly no longer around Bridget is said to be going well at 92 and very happy that her daughter’s investments are in horses carrying such special titles. 

A couple of favourites from last year were Le Geyt – a Jersey watchman – and Ureshii – the Japanese for Happy – and both have shaped up really nicely this autumn, with the improving Le Geyt all set to race on during the winter, while hopes will be high for Ureshii, not beaten far at Kempton on debut, to do plenty of delighting during his three-year-old season. 

And talking of promise, there’s been lots to like recently about Dashing Darcey, a winner at Lingfield, and Debora’s Dream as he came up with the winning goods he’d always promised at Wolverhampton. 

Good luck to all.