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Thursday 7 March 2019

How the Cheltenham favourites got their names

When a foal is born, there are often debates about what to name it. Although it has become increasingly common to call the horse something completely random, there are still many horses that are named after their sire and dam.

Red Rum is a famous example of a horse taking his parents’ names, having been named after his sire Quorum and dam Mared. With less than a week to go until the Cheltenham Festival, we take a look at some of the race favourites and how they got their names.

Native River 

Last year’s winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the third favourite to win this year’s race. The Irish-bred horse was named after his sire, Indian River and his dam, Native Mo. His sire was a top-class jumper in France, while his dam, Native Mo was an unraced horse. 

He’s yet to win so far this season, having finished in second at Haydock and third at Kempton, and this might go some way to explaining why he is only the third favourite to win the Gold Cup this year, despite winning last year’s race. He was not the favourite when he won it last year, so don’t write him off entirely, but beware, his form heading into last year’s Gold Cup race was far superior. 

Presenting Percy

For most of the build-up to the Gold Cup, Presenting Percy has been the favourite to race home to victory, however, in recent weeks, he has been joint-favourite with Clan Des Obeaux. Last year’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase winner was named after sire Sir Percy, but in an unusual twist, wasn’t named after his dam Hunca Munca, but instead took his dam’s sire’s name, Presenting, creating Presenting Percy. It’s hard to read anything into his form, as he has only raced once in the new season, winning at Gowran Park. 

Al Dancer 

Al Dancer is the favourite to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, being priced at 10/3. The French horse was sired by Al Namix and his dam is Steel Dancer. Al Dancer is undefeated this season, having raced home to victory in all four races he has competed in. Under jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, Al Dancer is certainly one to watch out for this festival. 

Shantou Flyer

It has been a good start to the season for Shantou Flyer, as he has picked up two wins from three races so far. He is currently the fifth favourite to win the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham, at a price of 7/1. 

Shantou Flyer was named after his sire, Shantou, and his dam, Carrigmorna Flyer. Shantou was a top-class performer, winning six of his 14 races, while Carrigmorna Flyer was an unraced horse. 

Not all horses use names from their lineage to create their whole name, sometimes it is just one name from either the dam or the sire which gets used, as is the case with the following horses. 

Clan Des Obeaux 

The joint-favourite in Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019 odds on Betfair, Clan Des Obeaux doesn’t take any part of his name from sire Kapgarde. Instead, the latter part of his name was taken from his dam, Nausicaa Des Obeaux. 

Ahead of the big race, he has demonstrated a mixed bag of form, having come fourth in his first race of the season, before following this up with two victories. 

Defi Du Seuil 

When Defi Du Seuil enters the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, he will line up as the favourite, having been given a price of 5/2. Much like Clan Des Obeaux, he didn’t get his name from his sire, but rather his dam. Voix Du Nord was his sire, while Quarvine Du Seuil was his dam, and there is no understanding of where Defi came from. 

Two victories in four races so far this season suggests that he certainly has the potential to win, but those two losses highlight a lack of domination that the likes of Altior have established at the festival.

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