Two Horses Named Sierra Nevada to Compete in Same Race Sunday

The smart money’s on Sierra Nevada for the 4:50 at Ireland’s Gowran Park on Sunday, but which one?

Racing at Ireland’s Gowran Park, pictured. Just ensure you don’t have your money on the “wrong” Sierra Nevada. (Image: Horse Racing)

Thanks to a weird blip in the Matrix, two horses with exactly the same name will run against each other in the same race, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden, The Racing Post reports.

The confusing situation has arisen because the horses, a three-year-old filly trained by Jessica Harrington named Sierra Nevada, and its namesake, a four-year-old filly trained by Charles O’Brien, were registered in different countries.

The three-year-old is an American horse and the four-year is British.

The Post notes that Britain and Ireland have a joint stud book so that horses registered in those countries cannot have the same name. But this understanding does not cross the pond.

Meanwhile, there is nothing in Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board rules to prohibit two horses of the same name racing together.


No adjustments will be made to differentiate between the two in race cards, officials have said, except that they will be referred to as Sierra Nevada (US) and Sierra Nevada (GB), respectively.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said bookmakers are hoping to avoid confusion on Sunday.

It’s certainly an unusual one,” she told the Post. “Shop staff will be made aware of this, so customers can specify which one they want a bet on, plus we will include a message on the race screens and audio around race time, ensuring there is no confusion.”

Of the two, bookmakers feel the American horse will fare better on Sunday. At the time of writing, Sierra Nevada (US) is one of the main contenders, 11/1, or fourth favorite at the time of publication. It is owned and bred by the Miarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings.

Sierra Nevada (GB), owned by Sue Magnier, is a 33/1 longshot at the time of publication.

Kerkiyra is the favorite to win the race, at odds of 15/8.

Weirdly, last July, Sierra Nevada (US) trainer Hartington had a winner disqualified at the Galway Festival because it “could not be positively identified post-race.”

Hartington admitted she had accidentally run a different horse than the one that was advertised on the race card. While the horses had different names, Hartington explained “they look exactly the same.”

Averti-ng Confusion

The namesake situation is not without precedent. In 1994, two horses named Averti, one bred in the US, the other in Ireland, competed in a race in Great Yarmouth, England.

Going back further, in 1896 at England’s now-defunct Keele Park Racecourse, two horses named Lambton lined up for a steeplechase race. Chances are, at least one was named after the then-famous British champion racehorse trainer George Lambton.

To maximize confusion, the horses were both British and so could not be differentiated by national suffixes. And to send confusion into overdrive, they placed first and second in the race.

Oddly, the February meet at Keele Park two years later was dominated by a jockey named Mr. W. Lambton, although he was not riding any of the aforementioned Lambtons.

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