Naming Your Horse

Perks of horse ownership stable visits

Getting Started

Where to begin? Picking a name for your new horse can seem a little daunting. However, picking your naming suggestion should be fun and provide you with a laugh or two along the way.

We’ve put together this guide to explain both the rules that govern the naming of a horse in Britain and also to try and set your mind free to come up with a naming suggestion that you’re happy with.

Once your choice is made, your name will be added to the other suggestions from your syndicate before you each return your naming votes. We ask you to use a Eurovision scoring system with maximum points going to your favourite name, and one point to your least favourite.

The rules and regs

Every horse that is due to run under the rules of racing must have a name registered through the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). As the owner of an unnamed youngster this decision is your privilege but think carefully, as once approved your horse has the name for life.

So, what are the guidelines you need to keep within when brainstorming names? The name you choose is restricted to up to 18 characters including spaces. It cannot include any punctuation other than apostrophes and it must not exceed seven syllables, if only for the sake of the commentators!

There are also a few guidelines that you must abide by in order to have your name approved. You are unable to have a name which already exists or that portrays any kind of political message. Without personal permission, famous names, both dead or alive, are likely to be rejected as are brand names.

Currently, 3,000 names are internationally protected so that they cannot be used again. Of these, Frankel is a prime example.

In addition, any name which is rude or potentially offensive will also not be accepted. This includes those names which are spelt in such a way that phonetically they will sound inappropriate when spoken.

However, there have been some names slip through the net occasionally, such as a South African horse named Hoof Hearted, which sounds rather different when said quickly!

Naming Ideas

So where do you start when coming up with your own naming ideas? It’s probably wise to think outside your own four walls when suggesting a name. Names such as My Son Alex may sound great to Alex’s proud parents but are unlikely to find favour with the rest of the syndicate.

With around 250,000 names currently registered choosing a unique name is not always that straightforward! With more than 12,000 thoroughbred horses named every year, you’ll need your thinking cap on to come up with a truly original suggestion!


Many people use the pedigree of their horse as an indicator for selecting a name. Often a mix of the dam and the sire’s names will create something new.

Though the pedigree is a good starting point, sometimes choosing to take it a step further by researching what names mean, or infer, can produce impressive results.

There are many subtle examples of using a pedigree to come up with a clever name.

Take Geespot. Its name may have you sniggering like a school child, but the naming is actually pretty clever. By the sire Pursuit of Love and out of the mare My Discovery, you really have to admire the creativity of her naming.

Mrs Kipling, a daughter of Exceed And Excel, is more obvious but also clever and a nice nod to the cake adverts of the same name derived from the sire.

Google can be a further, helpful source of inspiration. Hambleton’s first ever two-year-old runner was named Mazzanti after an owner typed his sire’s name, Piccolo, into the search engine and learned Nicola Mazzanti was a famous piccolo player.

Horses are sometimes named after places too. Aidan O’Brien horses are often named after landmarks or even countries, such as Giant’s Causeway and Australia.

Another, rather alternative angle is to use the letters of your horse’s dam and/or sire to make a new name with the relevant letters.

You can also come up with a play on words as long as it is within the guidelines and if your name is too long with spaces, simply remove them to make it just one word such as they did for Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor.

Good luck!

Hopefully this short guide will have pointed you in the right direction when it comes to selecting your racehorse’s name. Who knows maybe your suggestion will be returning to greet you in the winners’ enclosure in the fullness of time.

Naming your horse should be enjoyable and we are sure you will be entertained thinking through suggestions that are both suitable, or not so, in the process!

We look forward to hearing your suggestions.....