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Two horses with the same name to run against each other


pete
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Two horses with same name to run against each other for first time in 28 years

The two horses called Sierra Nevada will be running in the 4.50 at Gowran Park on Sunday.

The commentator and punters at Gowran Park on Sunday will have an interesting time in the 4.50, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden Stakes as they will have to contend with two runners both called Sierra Nevada. 

Contrary to the popular song it appears New York is not the only place so good they named it twice. However to add to the confusion there are two Sierra Nevadas, both mountain ranges, one in Spain and one in California. 

This is the first case of such a clash since 1994 when Averti (Ire) finished fifth just ahead of Averti (US) in sixth in a race at Yarmouth. Back in 1896 two horses called Lambton finished first and second in a race at Sandown.

The racing authorities in Britain and Ireland go to great lengths to make sure this is a rare occurrence because they have a joint stud book and there are set rules when it comes to naming horses; even soundalikes with different spellings and tongue-twisters are discouraged for the very good reason of not confusing the commentator.

However, on the rare occasions it does happen it is usually because one of the horses, as in this situation, has had its name registered outside Britain and Ireland. The four-year-old Sierra Nevada trained by Charles O’Brien is registered in Britain while the three-year-old Sierra Nevada, trained by Jessica Harrington, was bred in America by the Niarchos Family and registered there.

When an owner plans to register a name he or she can go to the BHA’s name availability checker on its website. If it comes back as ‘available’ it simply means it is not registered to another horse or protected by virtue of the previous animal’s performance (ie see how you get on with Red Rum, Arkle, Tiger Roll etc).

If it is taken further, at the reservation stage it will be subject to further checks to ensure it is free of commercialism, phonetic similarities, political correctness or politeness. (It’s all there is a 25 page user guide for registering a horse name).  

Earlier this season a two-year-old trained by Tim Easterby was declared to run as ‘Buggerlugs.’ an entirely innocent Yorkshire term of endearment for someone who might not always be the most attentive listener (roughly translated as ‘clothears.’) It was his owner Nick Rhodes’s father’s nickname for him and his way of honouring his father.

Six months after the name had been accepted and registered, Rhodes was contacted a day before it ran at Beverley by the BHA because there had been a complaint about the work ‘bugger’ in the name. He changed it to Sling Yer Hook which I think we can take to be his advice to the person who put in the complaint and he described it as ‘discrinination and prejudice against the people of Yorkshire.’

Trying to get one past the authorities has always been a bit of a game. A horse turned up at Folkestone once called Wear The Fox Hat (say it fast) and its name had to be changed to Noname before it could run.  

In the 1990s the late Julie Cecil, who had a wicked sense of humour, named two fillies Betty Swallocks and Mary Hinge, the two ‘sugly isters’ from a crude version of Cinder-f---ing-ella. Mary Hinge turned out to be pretty good, winning a Listed race at Haydock.   

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