Fifty Shades of Hay by David Ashforth
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You might feel sure that a horse is not a Flamingo, a Polar Bear, a Tomato, a Teapot, a pair of Bootlaces, a Taxidermist, a Rat Catcher or a Flea but you’d be wrong. Racehorse owners often give their horses bizarre names that would seem to make success impossible. Luckily, thoroughbreds are able to defy such handicaps. A Spaniel has won the Derby (1831), a Crow the St Leger (1976), a Butterfly the Oaks (1860) and, difficult to imagine, Oscar Wilde the Welsh National (1958). It’s bonkers. Bonkers won at Southwell in 2002. Over the centuries there have been hundreds of thousands of different names bestowed or inflicted on racehorses and in Fifty Shades Of Hay, David Ashforth has picked out a selection to baffle, surprise and amuse in equal measure.

Paperback, 978-1-910497-71-5, 272 pages, published 21st September