HYDERABAD: One night while I was tossing and turning, I had a delightful dream. I saw Ravi Shastri all decked up, in riding boots, sporting an equestrian hat, wielding a whip stick, getting ready to inspect his stable.He had quirky names for his ponies. I can distinctly recollect ‘Runs on the Board’, ‘Cool Customer’, ‘Tracer Bullet’ and ‘Playing a Blinder’. ‘Slashed’ and ‘Slashed Hard’ were a pair of twins. ‘Mixes It Up Nicely’ was his idea of a cross breed. ‘Up In The Air’ was his show jumper. I woke up in a sweat when I discovered that he had bet all his money on ‘Cricket Is The Winner’. Jokes apart, race horse naming is serious business. The accent is always on a positive spin. If you run your eye over the derby results, you’re likely to find a ‘Chariot of Fire’, ‘Wings of Glory’, ‘Velvet Blackjack’, ‘Kings Ransom’, ‘Thunder Bolt’, ‘Faster Than Light’ or ‘Cowboy’s Delight’ somewhere.
Things are a little warped sometimes. The owner tries his hand at having a wee bit of fun by opting for the unusual. A loser steed is self-deprecatingly labelled as ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Another Chance’, ‘Will Run For Food’ or ‘All Over Da Place’ as the case may be. Nods to movies happen every once in a while. ‘A Horse Called Man’ is a twisted take on the 70s flick A Man Called Horse. ‘Beam me up, Scottie’ is a hat tip to the legendary catchphrase that was never uttered in Star Trek. ‘Blonde in a Motel’ (who incidentally was sired by ‘Bates Motel’) is a reference to Psycho.
Brands get a liberal plug, too, from doting admirers. Bacardi, Starbucks, Campari, Victoria’s Secret and Jack Daniels are regulars at many circuits. Note the marked preference for spirits. Maybe that’s why a tippler named his horse ‘Sotally Tober’!
A few thoroughbreds get their kicks by flirting with profanity. ‘Hoof Hearted’ is everyone’s favourite. Say it aloud and you’ll discover it sounds ingeniously like ‘Who Farted’. Repeat the same with ‘Sofa Can Fast’ and you’ll know why the prancer was nearly blacklisted.
The one I tripped on the most was the almost Groucho Marxy ‘Dewey Cheatum & Howe’. When the announcer utters it, it feels as if he’s bragging on the microphone saying: “Do we cheat them and how?” Now that’s what I call a racy name.