Two Horses, One Name: How The Sierra Nevadas Fared At Their Race

Written By Derek Helling on June 16, 2022
Same Race, Same Horse Names Sierra Nevada

The litany of names for horses throughout human history has sometimes resulted in identical results. That situation presented a bit of a problem over the weekend. Two racehorses named Sierra Nevada participated in the same race.

It’s a novel story of independent registries and a track that bent over backward to accommodate trainers’ wishes. Hopefully, though, the instances of these combinations remain rare.

Sierra Nevada racehorses face off

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden race occurred at Gowran Race Park in Ireland on Sunday, June 12. Fortunately for betting on horse races, the pair of horses with identical names put some distance between each other.

One Sierra Nevada, bred in the United States and trained by Jessica Harrington, held the 15th position. Meanwhile, the Sierra Nevada trained by Charles O’Brien in the United Kingdom was number five on the card.

Harrington’s Sierra Nevada won the race. The O’Brien Sierra Nevada, meanwhile, finished eighth. To distinguish between the horses for the audience on-site, commentator Peter O’Hehir added the trainers’ names to the horses’ names as he was calling the race. O’Hehir explained his rationale easily.

“There’s not a simpler way really, you might start confusing people if you start talking about colors or whatever,” O’Hehir said. “A lot of people aren’t watching anyway, they’re only listening, so I think that’s probably the simplest way to do it.”

Essentially, the situation became possible because the horses are registered with different governing bodies that don’t share information to prevent such a circumstance. This might not prompt any change to that situation, though.

Similar circumstances rarely arise

According to Frank Keogh of the BBC, it was the first time since 1994 that a horse race in Ireland or the UK featured two horses with the same name. The name of choice was Averti. Tony Paley and Greg Wood of The Guardian‘s research goes back a little bit further.

They shared that the previous iteration of two horses, one name happened in 1979. The two horses in that race were named Ginistrelli. In 1896, two horses called Lambton faced off. A race in 1835 featured two horses sharing the name Ibrahim.

Thus, five such races happened in a span of 87 years, or once every 17-18 years on average. It doesn’t appear that anyone is in any hurry to change the rules to prevent a minor issue that only surfaces that often. Jason Morris, Horse Racing Ireland’s director of racing, explained the simple accommodation.

“…horses born and registered in other racing jurisdictions or stud books can have the same name with the suffix then being the distinguishing feature,” Morris stated.

While situations like Sierra Nevada leading Sierra Nevada are rare, it’s kind of inevitable, given the number of horses bred and trained each year, that a couple of them would end up with the same name. If the situation becomes any more common, though, the horse race industry might have to adjust.

Photo by Vladimir Hodac /
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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