Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine day special

Owner-trainer Tim Snyder leading in Lisa's Booby Trap (jockey Kent Desormeaux in saddle) after her fourth straight victory last year [Image credit: Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Love, Horses & Valentine

It was only apt that with Valentine day just round the corner, a horse named Moonlight Romance won the McDowell Signature Indian Derby last Sunday at the Mahalaxmi racetrack.

Actually, most of the 25,000+ people who witnessed the race had lost money by betting on Ocean And Beyond, the favourite whom Moonlight Romance beat, but they still happily cheered for her, and accorded standing ovation to the newly crowned champion when she returned to the paddock.

Was it her lovely name
Moonlight Romancethat won them over?

"Quite possible," says Begum Shaherbanoo Lagad, a horse owner for over 30 years, "it's such a lovely name, who will not be charmed by it?"

A descendent of the royal family of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Begum Shaherbanoo herself is deeply in love with horses and takes keen interest in naming her own horses. "I generally like to name my horses based on their pedigree," she says, "that is taking a cue from the dam's (mother's) and sire's (father's) names, but I try to make sure the name is positive and lovely." Begum once owned a baby whose mother's name was Flame Of Love. "I wanted the daughter's name to reflect that spirit of love, so I named her Head Over Heels," she says, "I also owned a daughter of Knight Of Medina whom I had named Arabian Nights after the epic that depicts love and celebration."

Love, in fact, is a dominant theme in naming racehorses. That may be because there are a number of ladies who own horses, and even when men own them, it is generally their better halves who take active interest in naming them.
Such horse names generally make a statement of love or reveal a private experience in subtle words. Love Conquers All, Love Me Tender, Love's A Mirage, Loved From Afar, Kiss And Tell, Ardent Lover, Blush, Red Passion and Tender Romance are some examples that easily come to mind.

There are also names like Secret Affair, Kissa Melissa, Memories Of You, Femme Fatale, Yours Truly, You Me And Beach which hide more than they reveal, or are understood only by the people for whom they were actually meant. By contrast, when a filly was recently named by the illustrious Poonawalla family as Nearness Of You, one would probably be right if one thought it was an emotional gesture, paying tribute to the memory of Mrs Viloo Poonawalla (wife of Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, former chairman of RWITC) who passed away last year.

Actually, love, romance, fond memories
even music and danceall attributes of the Valentine day celebrationsaccount for close to 10% of the names of racehorses all over the world. Even the word Valentine has figured in horse names like You're MyValentine, Valentine Day, Valentine Dance, Be My Valentine, etc. In the United States, in 1998, a horse was named A P Valentine because he was sired by stallion A P Indy, and was born on February 14, the Valentine day.

As per racing industry's records, the first horse that was ever named Valentine raced in the 1840 Grand National (then called the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase) at the Aintree racecourse in England. He was ridden by owner & trainer Alan Power, and finished third.

Alan Power however made a small fortune as he had placed heavy bets that his horse, a 25 to 1 shot, would be leading at the halfway mark. Interestingly, horses are supposed to jump over many hurdles during this race, and while negotiating one of them Valentine shied away at the last moment, jumping awkwardly over it, almost backwards, but Alan Power managed to remain in the saddle and won the huge bet, passing the halfway mark as leader.

Iqbal Nathani, a western India-based horse owner, has always named his horses after 'love'. His long list of horses includes Eternal Love, Unique Love, All My Love, Love At First Sight, Love Me Tender, April Love and many others. "Yes, all my horses I used to name after love," he told MiD DAY, "it sounds good. Love is a very positive emotion."

Nathani, however, narrates a story when he named a horse that he trained with SS Shah, now a septuagenarian trainer, just to pull the old man's leg. "There were a couple of ladies who used to phone Shah regularly on a race day for tips," Nathani says, "so I named one of my horses 'Kiss Me My Love' to cause him embarrassment. Imagine old man Shah telling those ladies 'Kiss Me My Love' on the phone!"

Some horse owners name horses after the emotion, like Feeling For You or Caring For You, while some actually like to name, especially fillies, after their lover's name. Lisa's Booby Trap is one such horse racing in the United States of America. Tim Snyder lost the love of his life
wife Lisato breast cancer in 2003. Before dying, Lisa had told Tim she wanted to come back as a racehorse, and when Snyder set his eyes on a Drewman - Ennuhway filly in January last year, he felt his wife had kept her word.

The filly had problems
she was blind in the left eye and had issue with ankles, one of them so bad she would have to wear a hind shoe on one of her front feet! But Snyder still purchased her for $6,500, paying advance of $2,000 and promising to pay the balance after her first win.

Interestingly, Lisa's Booby Trap won her first four races on the trot last year, and earned $75,660 as stakes money. Jockey Kent Desormeaux who partnered her during the fourth win said after the race, "As far as we believe, she (Lisa) is inside
they have the same heart, and she's carrying this horse."

More than co-incidence?

Moonlight Romance on Sunday won the biggest race of her career, the McDowell Signature Indian Derby (Gr 1), when the Valentine's Day was just a week away, and lovers all over the world were already busy getting ready to celebrate it. Did love-in-the-air combine with the astrological influences in her name to help her create history?

The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem. There has been at least one instance in the past when a horse name and the timing of an event were so related, it was almost scary! A horse was born at a farm in India in 2001, the owners named him Tsunami. He made his debut in the year 2004, and soon we had India's first tsunami that wreaked havoc and displaced millions.

Did You Know?

As per the rules about naming horses, which are almost uniform all over the world, no horse name can be more than 18 characters long, and that also includes the spaces between words, in the sense each space is also counted as one character. So Love At First Sight (19 characters) has to be compressed as Love At Firstsight and You Are My Valentine (20 characters) is registered as You're MyValentine.

Watch out...or else

Not all horse names with the word 'heart' in them turn out to be lovely, though.

In an example of how a well-meaning horse name, with the word 'heart' in it, can get in the news for all the wrong reasons, a little known race horse became nationally famous in the U.S. when the race caller pronounced the two words forming his name in quick succession: Hoof Hearted.

(Some inputs have been contributed by members of


No comments:

Post a Comment

Wish to post as "Anonymous"? Not a problem.
But a better way is to use the Name/URL option and take up some net name of your choice. That way your privacy is protected and other readers can associate your thoughts with your web personality. Think about it.
A sincere appeal by Prakash Gosavi, blog owner