What?s in a name?

By TONY WHITE

Trainer tells how he came up with 'Oh Black Betty'

WHEN it comes to racehorses there's often more to a name that first meets the eye.

Each year owners of the 70,000 strong thoroughbred horse pool in Australia conjure up some intriguing, weird and wonderful names gleaned from stallion and dam names, famous people, places, events, family, puns, twists on words or multiple other combinations, like the 1990s fad of combining several words together.

The task is not as easy as it seems.

More often that not owners first few preferences are often knocked back by the Registrar of Racehorses for a variety of reasons.

The naming of the Bruce Swan-trained three-year-old filly Oh Black Betty, a starter in race two at the Grafton TAB meeting today, has an unusual story behind it.

Oh Black Betty is by American sire Mister C out of the Splendent mare, Best Show. While listed as a brown filly, Swan insists she is black.

"Yes it's an unusual name," Swan said.

The trainer of Coffs Harbour Cup winner Concitare, who will start at Doomben on Saturday heading towards the $175,000 Newcastle Gold Cup, is a major part owner of the filly he purchased at the Dubbo sales 18 months back. His sister Gwenda and first time racehorse owner, local painting contractor Brad Hall, share in the ownership.

"There's a bit of a funny story to her name," Swan suggested. "But that's for another time.

"Well, if you must know I was walking around singing along to a song on the radio," he said.

"I had to get a name pretty quick to get the papers filled out and thought yes, she's black, that will do."

The catchy cover hit by Australian group Spiderbait ? Black Betty ? was the catalyst to the filly's naming.

Musically minded folk, particularly teenagers, would remember the line - "black betty (bam-balam), whoa black betty (bam-balam)."

'Whoa' in horse terms, is a commonly phrase used by riders attempting to restrain their mounts.

Oh Black Betty, a feisty customer, won't be restrained tomorrow in the 1100m Han Pre- mium Light Maiden.

However, the filly like Swan's other starters today has drawn wide in barrier 13.

"I'm still getting the visitor's draw," Swan said.

Skinz Hope (race three) and Final Objective (race six) drew barriers seven and 15 respectively.

The Ron Skinner-owned Skinz Hope is an interesting runner, a five-year-old gelding who had its first start at Coffs Harbour on August 2 this year.

"I think Ron forgot he was still in the paddock," Swan said.

"Ron's been away on a variety bash but is due back tonight. Skinz Hope still has a lot of learning to do but should make a handy little horse."

Drugs swoop

BRISBANE. ? Queensland Racing stewards continued their crackdown against illegal drugs when they swooped on four south-east Queensland racing centres and drug tested 37 jockeys, apprentices, stablehands and trackwork riders yesterday.

Steward Reid Sanders, who is deputising for holidaying acting chief steward John Hackett, said the latest raids were at Eagle Farm and Doomben in Brisbane as well as the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

The raids were part of an ongoing drug testing strategy recently adopted by Queensland Racing stewards.

The stewards' proactive stance started at Eagle Farm on August 13.



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