Winning a race is hard enough and getting the horse to the track is tough, but the process of naming of runners can present another set of obstacles for their owners.
One British-based syndicate, Chelsea Thoroughbreds, has more than 20 horses in training with about 100 individuals owning shares in different horses with names such as Humphrey Bogart and Tony Curtis.
Chelsea Thoroughbreds cofounder James Ramsden — who hails from a racing family — is largely responsible for coming up with themes for each different age group.
However, his business partner Richard Morecombe — who cried tears of joy when Humphrey Bogart put up a stunning performance to finish fifth in the 2016 Epsom Derby — said it is not as simple as plucking a name out of the acting or rock star hall of fame and giving it to a horse.
“There are rules that you can’t just name a horse after somebody,” Morecombe told reporters at the yearling sales at Europe’s leading bloodstock sales company, Tattersalls, in Newmarket, England.
“Some names are protected, some you are only allowed to name them after they have been dead for 50 years. Others, who have died within 50 years, you have to ask their families,” Morecombe said.
“Thus with [US film actor] Tony Curtis, we asked his last wife [Jill Vandenberg], because he had many wives, and she gave her permission,” he said.
“We asked one of the daughters of the spaghetti western director Sergio Leone. Not only did she say yes, she was so taken with the idea she asked to become a member of that syndicate who owned him,” he said.
While she signed up and flew over this year to watch the horse run second at Goodwood and then less well at York, the syndicate does not always meet with success.
James Bond actor “Roger Moore, God bless him, was really good and used to tweet every time the horse named after him ran,” Morecombe said. “He never made it to watch him run and on one of these occasions he said: ‘I can’t because I am having lunch with [actor] Michael Caine.’”
“I said: ‘Would you mind asking him if we could name one of our horses after him?’ He texted back after lunch to say that Michael Caine had said ‘no,’” Morecombe said.
“Joan Collins was a funny one, as we asked a former boyfriend of hers who is a friend to ask her and she initially said yes,” he said. “Then she had a change of heart and said she would agree only if it was called Dame Joan. We said we didn’t need her permission to call a horse that.”
For their two-year-old crop this year, Morecombe and Ramsden plumped for singers and their entourages — although they balked when the Louis Armstrong Foundation asked for US$10,000.
However, the band has played on with other legends of the music business enjoying a second spell of fame in a different world.
“You wouldn’t instantly know their names unless you were a music buff,” Morecombe said. “However, if you were to listen to their songs, then you would click.”
“A couple are really promising a lot with Sam Cooke winning ... and Brian Epstein [named after the Beatles manager] also won the other day,” he said.
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