Can you call a racehorse anything you like?

I dare say any number of horses have been called a few ‘choice’ names in their time but, ‘officially’, Weatherbys – which administers horse racing under contract from the governing body, known as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) – has various rules regarding what you can, and can’t, call a racehorse.

Each racehorse must be registered with a unique name or, in other words, a name that is not on the ‘protected’ list, e.g. Frankel, or registered to another horse. The name cannot even sound the same, or similar, to one on the protected list or one registered to another horse within the last ten years. Beyond that, the name must start with a letter and contain no more than 18 characters, including spaces, no punctuation marks, except apostrophes, and no more than seven syllables.

Vulgarity is frowned upon by Weatherbys, as is any name that may cause offence, to anyone, or confusion, in the day-to-day administration of horse racing or betting on the sport. If you want to name a horse after a living person, or one who has been dead for less than 50 years, you need to seek permission from that person, or their family. Even if a particular name is listed as ‘available’ it is still subject to approval by the BHA and will, almost certainly, be rejected if it contravenes any of the naming rules.

What Are the Feature Races at the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival is arguably the pinnacle of British national hunt racing, perhaps now even outshining the Grand National as the most important fixture in the jumps racing season. The Festival, which takes place in mid-March, host 28 races across four days. Fourteen of those are Grade 1 races – the highest level in national hunt racing.

While there is a glut of unmissable races at the Cheltenham Festival, including the Arkle and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, we hear a lot about the “feature races” or the “day’s feature”. Those are the four most prestigious races at the Festival, with one taking place at 3.30 pm each day of the four-day event. Feature races aren’t unique to Cheltenham, of course, as every racing festival will have its standout events. But the features at Cheltenham act as signposts, pillars around which each day is built.

Here’s a brief guide to each Cheltenham Festival feature race:

Champion Hurdle

Established: 1927

With a distance of just over 2 miles, the Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdle event in national hunt racing. It’s had many famous winners down the years, including Hatton’s Grace, Persian War and Istabraq, all of whom are three-time winners. Nicky Henderson leads the way as the trainer with most victories (7), whereas Ruby Walsh and Tim Molony both have four wins each as jockeys. The 2020 Champion Hurdle is likely to see a new generation of star hurdlers come to the fore, with the likes of Epatante (3/1) and Pentland Hills (7/1) leading the ante-post betting markets (odds from Ladbrokes).

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Established: 1959

Coming in at a fraction under 2 miles is the Champion Chase (The Queen Mother prefix was added in 1980), a race that has grown in prestige and that is now regarded as the top event for minimum distance chasing. Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984,1985) is the sole horse to have won the Champion Chase three times, but Altior can join him if he wins this year. Nicky Henderson’s star horse has looked unbeatable over the last four years, but he finally snapped his winning streak last November. That, coupled with fitness concerns, have pushed Altior’s odds out to 3/1 (William Hill), a price that can be capitalised on at – the best place for Cheltenham free bets. Altior is likely to see some stiff competition this year though, particularly from race favourite Defi Du Seuil.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Established: 1912 (modern renewals from 1972)

A long-distance hurdle event coming in just under 3 miles, the Stayers Hurdle was known as the World Hurdle from 2005-2015 for sponsorship reasons. It returned to the name Stayers’ Hurdle from 2016. As the name suggests, it’s the top hurdle event for stayers, i.e. horses that compete better over longer distances. Big Buck’s stands apart from all others in this event, with four consecutive victories from 2009-2012. Last year’s winner, Paisley Park, is the even-money favourite to win again this year.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Established: 1924

The race that forged the legends of Golden Miller, Arkle and L’Escargot, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a gruelling test of stamina (3 miles 2 ½ furlongs) for the best chasers in Britain and Ireland. It’s the most important race at Cheltenham and, one would argue, it has become the most sought-after prize by national hunt jockeys and trainers, even eclipsing the Grand National in recent years. Once again, we see last year’s winner as the ante-post market leader, with Al Boum Photo currently seeing odds of around 4/1. However, this race always delivers drama and quality, and there will be many top trainers believing they can add the name of their charges to the esteemed Gold Cup roll of honour.

What is a Group One race?

In Britain, and the rest of Europe, a Group One race is a horse race of the highest calibre, as designated by the European Pattern Committee. Group One races include some of the most prestigious, valuable and historic races in Britain, over distances between 5 furlongs and 2 miles 4 furlongs, on Grade One racecourses, such as Ascot, Newmarket and York.

Some Group One races, such as the ‘Classic’ races – that is, the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St. Leger – are restricted to certain age groups and others, such as the Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes, are restricted to a specific gender. However, generally speaking, horses of the same age and gender compete at level weights in Group One races, with weight-for-age and weight-for-sex allowances for three-year-olds competing against older horses and fillies and mares racing against colts and geldings, respectively.

Of course, Group One races can occasionally be downgraded; to maintain Group One status, over a three-year period, the average official rating of the first four horses home in the race in question must be 115, or more. From 2018, in Group One races, other than two-year-old races, in Britain, a horse must have achieved an official rating of 80 to be allowed to run in the first place.

How many horses have finished in front of Enable in her racing career?

Owned by Khalid Abdullah, trained by John Gosden, Enable has, of as April, 2019, won 10 of her 11 starts and just over £8 million in prize money. In October, 2018, she made history by becoming the first horse trained in England to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for a second time and, a month later, did so again by becoming the first horse to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same season.

Her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf was her eighth consecutive win at Group One, or Grade One, level, so it may come as a surprise to learn that she suffered the one defeat of her career, so far – albeit on just her second start – in a minor conditions stakes race at Newbury in April, 2017. Ridden, on that occasion, by William Buick, Enable stayed on well in the closing stages of the mile-and-a-quarter contest, but could only finish third, beaten 2½ lengths and a head. So, the number of horses that have finished in front of Enable in her racing career, so far, is just two, namely the winner that day, Shutter Speed, and the second horse home, Raheen House.

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