Horse Names – Translation


Known To Call


The choice of horse name has significant and everlasting impact.


Should the horse emerge as a champion thoroughbred, it will inevitably become a household name forever etched in racing history.



Shown To All


Before WWII, official horse names were only in English.

Their Chinese translations had no formal standard.

After WWII, official bilingual horse names have been gradually adopted and standardized.



From a booklet with bilingual horse names edited by Mr Greenstreet Kan, these are interesting collections:


1-letter Chinese Horse Name:

>L025 — PACKET「包」 — 60-61 — O’Brien P J
>P067 — BEN「奔」 — 62-63 — 砵士
>R049 — VITE「快」 — 63-64 — Henry WOO


5-letter Chinese Horse Name:

>M089 — BLUE DANUBE「藍色多瑙河」 — 61-62 — 楊勝惠
>R092 — BLUE NILE「藍色尼羅河」 — 63-64 — 楊勝惠
*D004 — BLUE TATU「藍色大渡河」 — 70-71 — 楊勝惠
>B027 — CITY OF VICTORIA「維多利亞城」— 55-56 — 康美
*M068 — DRAGON JADE「九龍塘之寶」— 78-79 — 九龍塘會
*F047 — HAPPY MAN II「快活人二世」 — 72-73 — 梁昌v
*B093 — HIPPONA II「喜寶第二」 — 70-71 — 李整醫生
>P084 — HONG KONG RUBY「香港紅寶石」 — Davis S G 戴維斯

>H055 — HONGKONG SAPPHIRE「香港藍寶石」 — 58-59 — Davis S G 戴維斯
*D095 — IRISH HOLIDAY「愛爾蘭假期」 — 70-71 — D.Benson
>O030 — LORD BLAIR「庇理亞公爵」 — 61-62 — Godfrey G B 葛苻利 — 鄭中樞

馬莉伊蓮娜」 — 47-48 — Robert J Maltland (Coltraco)
*S135 — MAUNA KEA II「滿利駒二世」 — 81-82 — 鄧肇堅
>L023 — MISS ALISON「阿里山小姐」 — 59-60 — JP Inglis
>L043 — MISS OTIS「柯蒂斯小姐」 — 59-60 — KC Johnson Hill
>S007 — MISS VIOLA「惠奧娜小姐」 — 64-65 — 溫達明等
>P002 — NORWAYMAN II「挪威民第二」 — 62-63 — 利亞臣
>V046 — PIXIE II「小天使第二」 — 66-67 — Huthart R S
>D061 — VICTORIA PEAK「維多利亞山」 — 57-58 — 麥華生


6-letter Chinese Horse Name:

>A039 — BASHFUL BEAUTY II「嬌羞美人第二」 — 55-56 — 林俊璋





Choosing a horse name requires Owners to follow certain guidelines set out by the Racing Registry.


Steps in naming a horse:


For Owners, the name-selection process formally begins two weeks prior to the horse‘s arrival in Hong Kong.


HKJC sends the new Owners a Registration of Horse Names form for them to provide three name options, in order of preference.


Certain criteria must be followed.

1. Restriction limits the horse‘s English name to 18 letters, including spaces and punctuation, while its Chinese name must not exceed four characters.

2. Names with obvious advertising purposes or whose pronunciation is too similar to those already registered are not permitted.

3. Names whose meanings, pronunciation or spelling deemed to be obscene or insulting will be rejected.

4. Names of well-known living persons are prohibited unless written permission is given by the person concerned.


5. HKJC publishes the Registered Names of Horses booklet each July.

A name listed in the booklet may not be re-registered until seven years have elapsed since the retirement from racing of the previously named horse.


6. Finally, the name will be checked against:

a list of internationally celebrated horses whose names are permanently protected and maintained by the Racing Registry.

In the case of celebrated horses that have won a Group One race in Hong Kong, their names are permanently protected and remain on the list perpetually.


Upon receiving the form, the Club will first check if the preferred horse name is:

– available in Hong Kong.

– already been registered in the horse‘s country of origin, to avoid confusion should the horse one day return to race in its country of origin.


Once a name has been approved, no change of horse name in the future, under normal circumstances.


Although there is no fixed deadline for the registration of horse names, owners are strongly advised to submit their selections as early as possible to enable the horse to participate in training and compete at the races.






Mr.Greenstreet Kan 《Reminisce of Hong Kong Racing》:

(11) Regulations were set already such as forbidding names of celebrity.

However horse naming, as now in Hong Kong are very confusing.

By 1948, Chinese and English translations were officiated but racing rules still have leniency that both version could be differently existed.

For example, foreign horse owners could chose an English name to name their horse, as they wish. HKJC will translate them to Chinese while respecting the idea of the owners. In another word, horse and the Chinese translation and the English name could be irrelevant.

It should be noted: horse owners are not entirely unrestricted to name anything.

For English names of internationally famous horses could not be used.

Even before, HKJC still has a rule: names of local famous horses could not be used.

But sometimes there are some exceptions.

For example, owners have a horse years ago —- had won lots of races which were achieved in the previous one or two decades, their owners with such proud and obsession could use the same names for their new strings again.

Such practice has been acceptable.

However there is a condition that such horses had not won any classic races in Hong Kong, for the sake of avoiding confusion in record. Otherwise, there could be a compromise to use “XX II”, “XX III” in naming.

Despite naming rules expressly provided, in the history of the Hong Kong Jockey Club,there were names being duplicated.

The small number of the such repeated names, with a period of at least more than fifteen years apart, were mostly not well known at the time, so not much of reminiscent aroused.

This provision is applied to both horse naming of Chinese and English.

There is a saying that “not afraid in the wrong life, afraid in the wrong name.” Thus Hong Kong has lot of “naming experts ” Not only for humans, even horses are expected to be named in high spirits, with “auspicious” name.

HKJC still has some special restrictions:

For example, horse names are not used for joking.

Names of celebrities are not allowed.

In addition, the length of the horse name are also limited: English horse names can not be more than eighteen letters. The Chinese horse name, starting from the professionalization, it is limited at least two words, and can not be more than four words. This is different from the amateur eras. According to memory, Dr. S N Chau, six words of the Chinese name, called DOMINION DAY.

As was the shortest of the horse name, only one of the characters, quite vivid, called: “Ben” !


According to Head of Racing Registry K L Cheng,

there seems to be a common denominator among horses that have climbed the summit of racing success.

“A champion horse never has a bad name,” he says.




960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards; 1207 meters = 6 Furlong; 1609 meters = 1 mile; 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards; 2012 meters = 1-1/4miles; 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.






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Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah; Mr Peter Yuen; Mr Tony Ng; Mr Donald Tsai; HKJC Archives; Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.





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