So, your dream has finally come true! You've bought your very own racehorse. You did your pre-sale research, picked out a promising yearling, and have decided who will train and ride it. There's just one thing left to do: give your racehorse a name.

For some people, this can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a racehorse. While silks will carry the owners' colours down the home straight, the name of a racehorse ties it to its owner in a far more meaningful sense. Get it right by reading our guide on how to name a racehorse.

The glamour of race day is something all owners live for and protecting your horse with horse insurance is the best way to assure them a long and fulfilling career in the spotlight.

Rules of racehorse naming

Coming up with a meaningful and inspired name is only part of the art of naming racehorses. Like many other areas of horse racing, the process is governed by a complex set of rules you need to follow if you want your chosen name.

Horse racing stalwart Weatherbys is responsible for registering all racehorse names in Great Britain and Ireland, subject to approval by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). These are the principle rules you need to follow:

  • Names can have a maximum of 18 characters including spaces and punctuation. Which is why Irish Grand National winner 'Shutthefrontdoor' is such a mouthful!
  • Names cannot contain more than seven syllables.
  • Names cannot be made up entirely of initials or ones that include figures, hyphens, full-stops, commas, signs, exclamation marks, inverted commas, forward or backward slashes, colons and semi-colons. So, you cannot choose K.F.C., I.O.U. or B.O.G.O.F.
  • Names may not end with a number or start with a sign other than a letter.
  • A racehorse’s name can only include the name of a real person or someone who has been dead for less than 50 years if the person or their family has given their written permission. So, watch out for an equine Jimi Hendrix or Charles De Gaulle to hit the track soon – both men died 50 years ago.
  • Names mustn’t have any obvious commercial significance.
  • If it’s the name of a prominent company or product, the company must consent.
  • A name must not be one the BHA considers offensive or inappropriate. Sofa King Fast is one of the many names to be rejected for this reason.
  • Names shouldn’t be offensive to any religious, ethnic or political groups.
  • You cannot give a racehorse a name from the restricted list. This list of approximately 3,000 names includes the winners of major races and the names of famous horses. That way, there will never be another 'Frankl'!
  • Names currently in use and similar names cannot be reused until five years after the horse has died or when they have reached 20 years of age. Check whether your chosen name is currently in use on the BHA website.

The naming process

The process is really quite straightforward and is conducted by Weatherbys on behalf of the BHA. After you’ve come up with an appropriate name and checked it’s not in use, you can register it through the Racing Administration System.

If you don’t have access then download an application form for a GB and Irish-bred horse, or an application form for a foreign-bred horse.

Most applications are processed and completed within one working day.

Inspirational racehorse names

Every racegoer who has ever dreamed of their own champion racer has given at least some thought to what they'd call it. From something heartfelt and personal to something grand or even just something snappy. Draw inspiration from these famous names.

Eclipse - This undefeated champion from the late 1700s is perhaps the most important stallion in horse racing history. His fast and powerful genes can be found in as many as 95% of today’s talented thoroughbreds.

Desert Orchid – A truly prolific winner of National Hunt racing, he won four King George VI Chases, the Irish Grand National and a Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Red Rum – No introduction is needed for one of the most famous racehorses in history. Winning the Grand National a record three times in 1973, 1974 and again in 1977, he even managed to come second on two other occasions in 1975 and 1976! He never fell in his 100 races over obstacles and is now buried at the winning post at Aintree.

Kauto Star – A well-loved and equally successful jumper, winning £3.7 million in prize money over his stellar career. He won two Cheltenham Gold Cups and a record five King George VI Chases. Known also for his long-running rivalry and friendship with his stablemate Denman.

Brigadier Gerard – An undisputed star of British racing in the early 1970s, he was beaten just once in a career spanning 18 races and three seasons. He won several prestigious mile events, including the 2,000 Guineas, before stepping up to win over longer distances, including the Eclipse Stakes and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Whether or not your thoroughbred follows in the hoof prints of these great champions, Equesure has a horse insurance policy suited to you and your equine friend.

Protecting your investment with horse insurance

From naming to training, you’ll have invested a lot of time and energy into your racehorse, so protecting them from accident or injury is essential.

With over 60 years’ combined experience in the insurance market, our team of specialists are well aware of the strain this can put owners under. That’s why we’ve worked so hard with our panel of insurers to bring you a range of policies to suit all requirements and budgets.

Benefits of horse insurance policies arranged through Equesure include cover for vets’ fees up to £7,500 of vet fees for life saving surgery for racehorses.

Saddlery and tack cover is also available.

Don’t forget to protect yourself and your transport, too. Equesure can help you find the right cover for both.

Call today for a horse insurance quote.


Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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