How can two horses with the same name compete in the same race?

Selecting which horse to back in the majority of races is usually pretty straightforward. We look through the list of names, maybe do a little research about the horse and their trainers, glance at their form in races and which jockey is going to be in the saddle, then consider whether there is good value in the betting odds available.

But what happens when there are two horses with exactly the same name? Interestingly, this is actually an extremely rare occurrence, although it can and very occasionally does happen, as proven by a recent race at Irish track Gowran Park in June 2022. When the list of starters was announced, there were two horses named ‘Sierra Nevada’ competing.

Understandably, this caused considerable confusion amongst the viewing public, although thankfully, the race commentator had a suitable solution. Every time he mentioned either of the horses, he also added the name of their trainer. Indeed, “Jessica Harringtons’ Sierra Nevada” and “Charles O’Brien’s Sierra Nevada” was how he referred to either horse, as they sped around the track.

According to the BBC, this was the first time since 1994 in Britain or Ireland, that two horses bearing the same name had competed in the same race. This was when two horses named Averti were racing at Great Yarmouth. But how can such a rare circumstance as this occur in horse racing, especially given that Britain and Ireland share a joint stud book?

Well, the answer is actually quite simple. On this occasion for the race at Gowran Park, the two horses came from opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean. Sierra Nevada trained by Harrington was bred and registered in the United States, while Sierra Nevada trained by O’Brien was registered in Great Britain and Ireland. However, there was probably an oversight somewhere down the line when both horses were named by their owners.

To name a race horse in Great Britain and Ireland, owners must apply to Weatherbys, the racing administration company founded back in 1770, which provides a variety of services to the racing industry in both countries. One of these is the registration of names, which includes numerous restrictions. For example, more than 3,000 horse names are internationally protected, such as legendary Red Rum, which means they cannot be reused.

There is also a character restriction, which means that horse names can be no longer than 18 characters and including spaces. Tasteful naming is also a consideration, therefore no foul or distasteful language can be used, while copyright is also an important consideration, which means that brand or company names cannot be given to horses.

Other limitations are considered whenever naming horses after people, alive or dead for less than fifty years, unless owners have permission from said person or their estates. Likewise, the names of previous horses cannot be reused until five years after they have retired, unless of course they are internationally protected or under copyright restriction, as previously mentioned.

Interestingly, the current Weatherbys register contains the names of more than 250,000 horses. Yet somehow, these two horses named Sierra Nevada managed to slip through the habitual naming process, most likely because one was named and registered in the United States, without that name being added to the Weatherbys list in Great Britain and Ireland.

What makes this rarity all the more confusing is that for many punters, the name of a horse can often be one of the considerations whenever they’re backing a horse in any given race. Although the name alone is no indication as to form or potential success, the appearance of two horses carrying the same name in one race can obviously create uncertainty.

Whenever we are wagering on horse races, no two bookmakers are ever the same, as odds available can vary and market options can also be presented in different ways, therefore making well informed comparisons is always recommended. This why the best advice is always to find top betting sites based upon your own preferences, making the latest SBO guide a great place to start.

Just like this rare occurrence of two horses bearing the same name, there can often be many similarities between different online betting sites. Comparing them in more detail can help us to make informed choices, weighing up those which offer the most competitive odds and offers, whilst also being recognised for quality customer care and reliable betting services.