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How do racehorses get their name?

Next week’s Cheltenham Festival will see some 400 horses competing over 4 days of compelling racing at the spiritual home of the sport. There will be horses with all sorts of names, and a few at the back of the field called names they may not recognize by aggrieved punters!

The naming of racehorses is a process that combines tradition, creativity, and sometimes humour. Over the years, it’s fair to say we’ve seen everything in terms of horse names. We’ve seen fierce, creative, plain and some arguably quite nonsensical.

From regal and elegant monikers to downright hilarious and pun-filled titles, the names of racehorses often reflect their owners’ personalities, aspirations, bloodlines, and sense of humour. 

In this article, we’ll delve into how racehorses get their names and showcase some of the funniest and most memorable names in horse racing history.

Owner’s preference

In most cases, racehorses are named by their owners, who have the privilege of choosing a name that resonates with them personally or reflects the horse’s breeding.

Owners may draw inspiration from various sources, including family names, historical figures, favourite places, or significant events. Topsham Bay, well known chaser of yesteryear, is named after the eponymous bay near Exmouth. Flooring Porter is named after the business of his owner, a floorlayer.

Name approval process

Before a race horse’s name can be finalised, it must undergo a thorough approval process governed by the relevant horse racing authority in the respective country.

Names are typically subject to certain guidelines and restrictions, such as length limitations, prohibitions on offensive or inappropriate language, and avoidance of trademarked names.

Names of high-achieving horses are also protected. Arkle is not available to new owners for example.

Unique identifier

Each racehorse’s name must be unique within the jurisdiction where it will compete to avoid confusion and ensure accurate race results.

If a proposed name is already taken or deemed ineligible, the owner may need to submit alternative options until an acceptable name is approved.

Funniest racehorse names

Of course, this is a debatable category. It comes down to a matter of opinion as to what the funniest horse racing names are. Some people will prefer more serious names that would make a horse sound like a winner, whereas others prefer the more comical approach.

The naming of a horse is actually really important as it has a major impact on betting popularity. Especially amongst new horse racing punters, they typically don’t like to read through all the data that we have access to these days and when scouring through popular horse racing events, like the latest Cheltenham festival odds, they will pick a horse to back purely based on their name.

Hoof Hearted

This name has been sure to elicit chuckles from spectators and commentators alike – classic schoolboy humour. It’s remarkable to think how it escaped the notice of the authorities at the time.


This pirate-themed name combines humour with a dash of swashbuckling charm, making it a memorable choice for any racehorse.

My Wife Knows Everything

A tongue-in-cheek nod to marital dynamics, this name offered a light-hearted take on the age-old adage that “happy wife, happy life.” it also amply illustrates the male-oriented demographic driving racehorse ownership.

It’s All Over Now

With a name like “It’s All Over Now“, this racehorse may leave its competitors wondering if their chances of victory have already been dashed.


This whimsical name combines nonsensical syllables with a touch of humour, leaving racegoers scratching their heads in amusement. Probably the purchase of some Texan rancher.


More a reflection of his owners’ drinking habits we think, but a successful chaser nonetheless.

Final thoughts

The naming of racehorses is a delightful blend of creativity, tradition, and sometimes outright hilarity. From owners drawing inspiration from personal anecdotes to crafting pun-filled titles that leave spectators in stitches, the names of racehorses add an extra layer of charm and personality to the sport of horse racing.

While some names exude elegance and sophistication, others are unabashedly quirky and comical, reminding us that laughter is indeed a part of the rich tapestry of horse racing culture. it is, after all, a sport for fun. 

But remember: horses are also individuals. The most graceful creature to live on God’s Earth also deserves a noble name, not some internet meme idea. Celebrate the thoroughbred in all his glory.

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