Here's the reason why all the horses in the Melbourne Cup have weird names.

Almoonqith, Oceanographer, Exospheric – these horse names don’t exactly roll off the tongue.

You don’t see any Kates, Janes, Jonathons or even Buttercups out on the track. So what’s with the weird names for racehorses?

According to Racing Australia’s naming policy, it’s all about the uniqueness.

“A name cannot be repeated for 17 years after the birth of a horse with the exact same name or for 20 years after the year of birth of the youngest named produce of a horse with the same name,” the guidelines state.

However, if the horse has won a significant race that name-ban could blow out to 99 years or, if they’ve won the Melbourne Cup, forever.

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Finding a name that hasn’t been used for 17 years (or ever) would be a tall order for naming anything – so that’s why horse owners tend to go for the more out-there names.

And while it seems like you can name your horse just about anything, there are some restrictions.

The maximum length of a name is 18 characters, including spaces and apostrophes. That’s the reason ‘Who Shot Thebarman’ is spelled without a space between ‘the’ and ‘barman’.

You also can’t name your racehorse anything too difficult to pronounce or read, or give them a name containing anything “contrary to law” or offensive (so no swear words or terrorist organisations).


Business names, betting terms, racing-related terms and names entirely made up of numbers are also out. So you can’t name your horse “Melbourne Cup” unfortunately.

The horse’s name could also be rejected if it sounds too similar a name in existence. An international horse might have to change its name when competing in Australia if an identically-named horse is already registered.

The name 'Melbourne Cup' is out, unfortunately.(Image via Getty)

And if you want to name your horse after someone famous, you'll have to be extra nice to the team at the Registrar of Racehorses, because it's at their discretion.

So how to horse owners deal with the headache of finding a unique name? Well, there is a handy search function on the Racing Australia website that allows them to check if a name has already been used.

We happen to like that horse owners are forced to be so inventive - you're not likely to forget the horse's name if you bet on 'Heartbreak City' in the Cup today.

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