If you have ever wondered how racehorses are given their names, I can guarantee that after reading what follows, you will never ask that question again!
The situation was getting serious. We couldn’t come up with a name; I wanted to be traditional and base it, in some way, on breeding but we were coming up way short. Traditionally, you would look at the dam (mother) and sire (father) and see if any combination of their names would work; failing that some contrived link could also be used. For example, when Sea the Stars was mated with Verba the resulting progeny was named Verba Stars- I was looking to be a little more original but along those lines.
So what did we have from a breeding point of view? Well, Heron Island’s sire was Shirley Heights and his sire was Mill Reef. Not only did they both win the English Derby but, almost as interesting, they were named after two scenic areas on Antigua. This got me thinking: what if Heron Island was also a beauty spot on Antigua? Unfortunately that is not the case BUT it is an island off the Barrier Reef in Australia.
Turning to the dam side, my un-named horse’s dam was Kate Gale and her sire was Storm Gale; I was starting to think weather related and exotic. I starting looking for places between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn that could somehow work. Kim and I spent hours looking for alternatives coming up with names like Twin Islands, Island Storm and Mercer’s Creek to mention but a few. Then, in a moment of pure romantic inspiration, the answer became obvious:
The previous year, 2012, we had gone to the Seychelles for a re-do of our honeymoon in 2011 when I managed to get food poisoning and spent over half the honeymoon in bed (and, yes, I know that’s what you’re supposed to do but not in my particular state of ill health!) Anyway, as re-dos go (or do-overs as the Americans say) this was like making up for missing Top Gun by having Tom Cruise come over for dinner. It was an exceptional vacation; romantic and beautiful but it struck me that where we stayed had a beautiful name. Now, with me being English and the name being French there was never a chance of me going with that but, maybe, if the translation worked we could use that?
I am pretty sure if the name had been Île du cheval inutile* then we would have passed but it wasn’t! Instead it was Anse La Liberte which means Freedom Cove. That didn’t sound so good but on the basis ‘cove’ is a ‘small bay’ I felt we could use Bay instead. Unfortunately, there had been a horse called Freedom Bay and , to be honest, he wasn’t that good so, exuding imagination and inspiration, the name of our horse was decided: Bay of Freedom!
(* Ok – I’ll tell you. This translates to ‘Island of the useless horse’)
As far as I could tell from the Racing Post website there had not been another horse called Bay of Freedom; this was surprising as Kim and I had decided that was a fantastic name: strong, masculine, powerful and the sort of name you could imagine Des Scahill calling home. (Des is the principal race commentator in Ireland and did, indeed, call the race Bay of Freedom won at Galway)
The thing to do now was to register the name in Ireland and we would, literally, be off to the races. So let this be a lesson to all potential male owners: not only does naming the horse after a romantic memory make you feel great about your relationship but it doesn’t half give you some pull when you want to watch it race!