GB: Massive embarrassment and no little outrage this week for racing’s rulers, who have vowed to review the procedure for vetting racehorse names after a horse was allowed to race under a name with racist connotations.
‘Jungle Bunny’ was unplaced in a race at Wolverhampton on Saturday [Dec 12] before the offensive name – a racist slur dating back to the 1970s – came to the attention of the British Horseracing Authority, which immediately ordered a name change when they realised their policing failure over the issue.
Not before the name had caused outrage on social media, however, where the error was described as “unforgivable” by “gobsmacked” followers of the sport. The story was also picked up in several national newspapers, among them The Guardian, The Sun and Daily Mail, plus the Reuters news agency.
The BHA said “human error” allowed the name to slip though their checking procedures, admitting on Twitter that it was “deeply offensive and should not have been permitted”.
The filly at the centre of the controversy is a two-year-old trained in Wales by David Evans. She was well beaten into sixth at Wolverhampton, where race caller Derek Thompson did not mention her name.
The Evans camp claimed it was “an innocent mistake” and the name derived from the sire Bungleinthejungle and the computer game Jungle Bunny Run, which trainer’s wife Emma said her grandson likes to play.
The horse is now Jungle Bells, and the official formbook has been amended.