Racehorses named after footballers: What's in a mane?

It was with a grin and a slow shake of the head that I watched the horses being put through the ritual of "picking winners" for four of the Round Of 16 matches.

The results of the last round suggested they cannot tell the difference between a football and their feed bin.

Still, I watched them do their thing. After all, just like football's the beautiful game, a horse in full flight is a thing of beauty.

Out on the track, a horse named Giggler had just beaten a stablemate called Haizum.

The winner wore the colours of Uruguay.

It had "spoken".

Giggler was telling you to put your money on Uruguay beating Colombia.

I grinned even more; I am still going for Colombia.

After checking, I found out that Giggler was ridden by someone named Chihiro. Now, that is a nice name for a Japanese footballer.

It got me thinking, how many racehorses are named after footballers?

One quickly came to mind. Van Nistelrooy. In his heyday, Ruud the Dutchman was a pretty nifty player. On the racetrack, Van Nistelrooy the galloper was a champ and a pretty good sire.

Indeed, it fathered a horse named - wait for it - Van Basten which, before that, was named Fifa.

No joke.

Alas, Van Basten the horse was not much of a "striker" and he "scored" just once in 23 appearances in Singapore.

Before that, there was Johan Cruyff, who finished third in the QE II Cup in Hong Kong in 1998.

Then, who can forget Salvatore Schillaci, the humble Italian who became the star of the 1990 World Cup?

A year later, in Australia, someone bought a big grey horse and named it after the footballer.

What a champion Schillaci the horse turned out to be.

A winner of many Group One races, it gave its all - much like its ball-juggling namesake.


Over the years, we have had the likes of Pizarro, Zidane and Aguero grace racetacks in the region and do you know that England's Wayne Rooney also has a horse which he named Switcherooney?

So yes, it is a nice story - horses named after footballers.

But to cut a nice story short, I am not convinced they can pick match winners.

At Kranji, the horses "picked" Brazil, Holland, Uruguay and Greece. I have no problems with the first two, but I will be cautious with their other picks.

Then again, who knows? Over the next few days, they may make me look like a horses's rear and the laughing stock in Bettingland. For now though, I am still smiling. You want to know why?

Because winners are grinners - and I feel like one.

This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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