Many of you will probably know by now that one of the loves of my life (as well as wine, of course!) is horse racing. I am often at Stratford Racecourse – which incidentally was the 2009 winner of the Racegoers Club Award for Best Small Racecourse in the South Midlands and East Anglia – and you can read about its history and races via my blogs here, if you are interested. Yesterday, on Twitter, Will Hargrove (from Corney & Barrow) mixing two of his passions, posed the question of how many wine related racehorses were there? Will mentioned Barolo, Solaia, Petrus, Grands Crus, Angelus and Latour. (Grands Crus by the way is one of the top hurdlers in this country and second favourite to win one of the top races – the Ladbrokes World Hurdle – at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday March 17th, St Patrick’s Day). I had an interesting chat between Will, Hamish Wakes Miller (of Bella Wine Tours) and Ascot Racecourse about our favourite racecourses and Will’s ambition to visit every racecourse in the UK. However Will’s question about racehorses and wine got me thinking and I reckoned this would be a fun topic for a Blog . . . so here goes!
La Belle France and the racehorse have a long history (see Clear Sailing – Chateaux and Race Horses) and starting with the fruits of the vine there have been quite a few racehorses named after grapes: Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Le Merlot are some that I have spotted.
Racehorses named after wines themselves seem to fall into a few categories. The Thoroughbred Heritage website is a fascinating resource and if you travel back to 1822 and you will find Chateau Margaux and in 1864 D’Estournel. At the turn of the century in 1900 there was a Haut Brion.
Jumping to more modern times there is are a Chateau d’Yquem, Lafite, Lascombes, Lynch Bages, Pape Clement (IRE), La Conseillante (USA), Figeac (USA) and Coutet (NZ). In fact New Zealand has a cellar full due to trainers Peter and Philip Velas’ appreciation of fine wine at Pencarrow Stud: Richebourg, Romanee Conti, Romanee St Vivant and Grand Echezeaux.
There are even racehorses named after the appellations of Bordeaux: Pauillac (FR), Saint Estephe (FR – and Winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom in 1986), Saint Julien (FR), Barsac, Medoc (USA) and Pomerol (GER).
The racehorse Sauterne was the 2001 winner of the The Golden Daffodil Stakes run at Chepstow in Wales. The Golden Daffodil Stakes was a Group 3 flat horse race which was open to thoroughbred fillies and mares aged three years or older. It was run over a distance of 1 mile, 2 furlongs and 36 yards (2,045 metres). The event was established in 1994, and it was initially classed at Listed level. The Golden Daffodil Stakes was promoted to Group 3 status in 2003, and for a short period it was the only Group race in Wales. It was last run in 2005.
The racehorse Saint Emilion is renowned for being one of the few racehorses to win on a dead heat in Japan. A dead heat is a tie between two or, rarely, more horses in a race for a win or placing. Usually, a photo finish can determine the placings, but at times it is impossible to separate the horses. At the Yushun Himba (also known as the Japanese Oaks) on May 23rd 2010 Saint Emilion and Apapane hit the wire at the same time in the race. This is the first time that a Japanese Grade I race has resulted in a dead heat for the win. The Yushun Himba is a Grade 1 flat horse race for three-year-old thoroughbred fillies run over a distance of 2,400 metres (approximately 1 mile 4 furlongs) at the Tokyo Racecourse, Fuchū, Tokyo, first run in 1938 and is the Japanese equivalent of the English Epsom Oaks.
And to finish I have found a Champagne! Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne was Pol Roger . . . he even named his racehorse after it!