Sunday, February 16, 2014

A brahma by any other name

Yesterday started very stormily here, as it did in pretty much all parts of Great Britain.  And Ireland too, I'd imagine.  I'd gone outside at around 3am to reassure myself that the noise outside was merely a gale, rather than the world ending or the stable falling down; and, while the wind did slacken as the day developed, it was still very, very windy through the morning.  But we more or less avoided the rain which was elsewhere (yet again) and it could have been worse.  And today has been delightful: the wind has gone, the rain has gone, the clouds have gone.  It was mild, bright and sunny all day.  Lovely, as you can see in this chapter's illustrations.

It was an easy decision yesterday afternoon to opt for my usual easy Saturday afternoon in the front of the television.  And the afternoon started usefully, as the first race at Haydock reminded me of a topic which had been buzzing around my head for a couple of weeks - since the BHA told Dr Koukash that he could no longer use the word 'Gabrial' in his horses' names, in fact.  Why this race reminded me of that was because it featured a close finish, two horses pulling well clear of the rest.  And these two horses were Abracadabra Sivola and Aurore D'Estruval.

Have I lost you?  Well, "The Good Doctor" can't use 'Gabrial' any longer because all these Gabrials are confusing for punters etc.  So far, so good: it seems rather stern to ban him from adding to the 21 (or whatever the total is) Gabrials, but there's no doubting that the plethora of Gabrials is slightly confusing.  But, and here's the nub, it's far less confusing than the plethora of Sivolas (Sivolae?), D'Estruvals and Collongeses.  I'd guess that we've had more of each of these in the UK than we've had Gabrials - and I'd guess that only a minority of them have made their way across the Channel from France.  So that's good: presumably the BHA will be in touch with France Galop to request that 'rien ne va plus' as regards those names.

But the problem doesn't end there, does it?  All these Minellas (Minellae?).  And the Clondaws are starting to become a bit of a problem.
Straightforward: the BHA will presumably be on to HRI to request that these prefixes are proscribed.  Thank God that Diamond Racing are no longer naming all their horses 'Diamond ...'.  That was arguably the most confusing of all.  I got confused by all the Diamonds, and I trained for them.  I hear the name of a Diamond horse now, and I can't remember whether or not I trained him or her.

I was up at the Racing School the other day and noted that Diamond Josh was there.  The name rang a bell and I think that I trained him, but I'm not sure.  I'd have known if I'd sought him out and gone to look at him, but just from the name ... well, I don't know.  I definitely trained Diamond Joshua.  (And I felt rather silly when I watched my interview with Sean Boyce on At The Races' excellent Newmarket National Hunt training feature, realising that when I said that Jack Dawson was the best jumper I'd trained I'd forgotten that I'd trained a Triumph Hurdle place-getter.  I felt rather disloyal towards dear little Joshua, even leaving aside that, overall, Jack's career was considerably more distinguished than Joshua's.)

But Diamond Josh?  Well, I remember training a little chestnut Diamond sprinter, a gelding by Primo Dominie who came here from Dave Evans because he was bad in the stalls, ran a handful of times and was placed without winning, and then was moved on somewhere else, possibly back to Dave.  I think that he was called Diamond Josh.  But he could have been Diamond something else.  See what I mean?  If I can't remember which Diamond he was, what chance does the average punter have?  So that's settled: Diamond will be going the same way as Gabrial.

And the most confusing of all, of course, are Sheikh Hamdan's horses.  All those fillies beginning with 'Al'.  And all those stallions beginning with 'M'.  Mukdaam, Mukadammah, Mujadil, Mujtahid, Mujahid.  Are/were they all stallions?  I think so, but wouldn't swear on it.  And I'm meant to know about stallions.  And there'd have been plenty of colts with very similar names who didn't do well enough to find a place at stud.  I could fill a book, never mind a paragraph, on the confusion created by Sheikh Hamdan's similarly-named horses over the past 30 years, but I'll leave it there because I'm sure that you get the picture.

In fact, you'll already have the picture as I'm sure that you've been as confused over the years as I have been by all these Al...s and Mu...s.  But it's good to know that this will soon be a problem of the past rather than of the future, and that the BHA names-police are on to the case.  In fact, the only mystery is why they have waited to tackle this problem until after sorting out the slight Gabrial confusion, which is a much lesser issue.  The Gabrial thing was so inconsequential by comparison, but at least it's set a useful precedent which the BHA can use as a valuable weapon in its major assignment. Yes, I can see the logic: when Sheikh Hamdan is given the bad news, it will come with the reassurance that it is not just him being picked upon, because the doc has already been subjected to the same restriction.  Very clever.


neil kearns said...

Yes you trained diamond Josh ran 3 or 4 times I think and I am fairly sure you got him placed somewhere
If all owners did the same you could have had some berry berry good runners

glenn.pennington said...

I find all the "Sizing" horses raced in Ireland confusing John - they all look the same size to me