Playing the name game: Ballydoyle juveniles to follow
What's in a name? Well, when it comes to Ballydoyle's two-year-olds, quite a lot it would appear. During a day behind the scenes with the operation's master trainer Aidan O'Brien earlier this month, it was revealed all juveniles are assigned ratings – and Sue Magnier names each horse based on that rating.
“We'd rate the two-year-olds every week and Mrs Magnier would name them based on that. If you see a bad horse with a good name you'll know there's only one person to blame and that’s me!" said O'Brien.
So surely the better the name, the better the horse? It hasn't always worked – think James Joyce and Abraham Lincoln – but when you consider such luminaries as Caravaggio, Gustav Klimt, Galileo and Ruler Of The World, a potentially prophetic name looks worth noting.
To get you started, Racing Post writers picked their standouts from this year's crop – for more unmissable insight into the Ballydoyle battalions, don't miss our exclusive stable tour pullout in Monday's Racing Post, which is available to Members' Club Ultimate subscribers online from 6pm Sunday.
Ones to watch
Ramesses the Great
Pioneerof the Nile - Mythical Bride
A $575,000 purchase by MV Magnier and by the sire of American Pharoah, Ramesses The Great continues the Egyptian theme. Named after arguably the most celebrated pharaoh, associated with epic military campaigns, the Exodus story and grand construction projects (including the modestly-named city of Pi-Ramesse). Known as Ozymandias in Greek, Ramesses inspired the famous Shelley poem of the same name, which runs: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Of course, as a word of warning, it should be noted the poem's central theme is hubris and the fleeting nature of glory.
The Rain King
No Nay Never - Brigids Cross
It was tempting to plump for Tango (No Nay Never ex Idle Chatter), presumably named for Mrs Magnier’s hitherto undisclosed liking for bright orange carbonated drinks, but the best of Ballydoyle usually reference high culture rather than fizzy pop, so I’ve sided with The Rain King, named quite possibly after the fourth single released by American rock band Counting Crows – from their first album August and Everything After – itself apparently inspired by the 1959 novel Henderson the Rain King, by the great American author Saul Bellow. Lead singer Adam Duritz once explained: “The book had kind of become a totem for how I felt about creativity and writing – that it was just this thing where you just took everything inside of you and just sort of sprayed it all over everything, and not to worry too much about it.” Quite.
War Front - Lerici
Mrs Magnier has loved nothing more in recent years than naming a promising prospect after an artist – Caravaggio, Gustav Klimt, Roderic O'Conor, Dali and Anthony Van Dyck all spring to mind and it is would seem significant this son of War Front has been named after one of the main exponents of the contemporary Arte Povera movement in Italy, Michelangelo Pistoletto. This full brother to Richard Mandela’s dual Grade 1 winner Avenge – who was third in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf – stands out on the page as well as on naming grounds.
Galileo - Palace
This colt could be poetry in motion when he gets to the track. Yeats was something of a trailblazer for Ballydoyle horses named after famous writers, winning four Gold Cups at Ascot in quick succession before embarking on a successful stud career. While reference to the inimitable Romantic poet John Keats represents a marked detour from the Irish canon, the colt’s lofty literary connection nevertheless bodes well as few poets are held in higher esteem than Keats.
War Front - Misty For Me
Something of a departure from previous Ballydoyle nomenclature, Ohio State took the eye because of the college’s huge success in American Football. The Buckeyes ended 2018 ranked third in America and each year provide a raft of top prospects for the NFL draft. Such a tradition of success marries well with Ballydoyle and Coolmore’s philosophies.
Galileo - Switch
Ballydoyle is all about knocking it out of the park and based on the title handed to this son of Galileo, another home run might not be far away. Named after the home of arguably the most successful sports club in the United States, the New York Yankees have won Major League Baseball's World Series a record 27 times, with luminaries such as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio among the sporting legends to have played for the club. In 2009 their original home was replaced at a reputed cost of $1.5 billion, making the modern-day Yankee Stadium one of the most expensive sporting arenas ever built – no pressure on its equine namesake then!
American Pharoah - Global Finance
Few civilisations retain the mystery or charm of ancient Egypt, whose complex system of tombs and pyramids have kept secrets buried for millenniums. South Saqqara, located 20 miles from modern-day Cairo and the resting place for great and unknown rulers alike, is an apt name for a racehorse hailing from a family about which there remains an air of intrigue. The son of American Pharoah is a half-brother to Acapulco, who blazed a trail as a juvenile for Wesley Ward, showing blistering speed to win at Royal Ascot, but was restricted to just one start for Aidan O'Brien, retiring before we fully understood what lay within. This $300,000 colt's optimum distance is unclear but it is unlikely he will show the staying power of South Saqqara's most famous inhabitant – Pepi II, reputedly the longest-reigning pharaoh.
Galileo - Divine Proportions
This is a particularly fitting name for this American-bred daughter of Divine Proportions as Numen is a Latin term for divinity. This half-sister to Group 3 scorer Eightfold Path could be very smart if her name is any indicator, as Numen has powerful definitions in both religion and sociology. In the former, the word refers to the idea that an object holds a magical power. In Etymology – the study of words and their meanings – the word means 'making one's presence known' or 'a nod of the head'.
Satin And Silk
Galileo - Wildwood Flower
This two-year-old filly is bred in the purple, being a half-sister to the 2015 Florida Derby winner Materiality and Group 2 scorer My Miss Sophia. Her luxurious name perhaps reflects her blue-blooded pedigree and she was purchased for 900,000gns. Her dam, who was bred by John Gunther, showed good form in Graded races but she could perhaps better that.
Don't miss our bumper Aidan O'Brien stable tour in Monday's print edition. Sign up to Members' Club Ultimate and read the stable tour from 6pm on Sunday