Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Makybe Diva

Makybe Diva's historic 3rd Melbourne Cup win in 2005
Today's post is inspired by two things. One, The Melbourne Cup is on today. In case you hadn't heard, it's one of the biggest horse races of the year, and a very big deal in Australia. And as I live in Melbourne I also get the luxury of a public holiday today so I can enjoy the race  - we're off to a BBQ with friends later today, which is the usual way to commemorate the day if you're not actually at the track today.

My second inspiration is the smoosh name, by way of Abby at Appellation Mountain. Abby has recently commented on her Facebook page that she's spotted an Emmylou, and that a post on name smooshes remains one of her favourites on Nameberry.

Which got me to thinking about one of the most successful name smooshes I've seen on a Melbourne Cup champion - Makybe Diva. Makybe Diva became the first ever horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times, which she did in years 2003, 2004 and 2005. I won't go into the history of the Melbourne Cup, as Anna did a great job of this recently at Waltzing More Than Matilda when she profiled the first ever winner of the Cup, Archer. But needless to say, it was a big deal to win it three years back to back, and a statue has been erected in the owners home town to commemorate this achievement.

Makybe Diva is owned by a tuna fisherman in my home state of South Australia named Tony. Tony is the one who gave Maybe Diva her name, which he designed by taking the first two initials of five of his female employees and creating a name. Thus MAureen - KYlie - BElinda - DIanne - VAnessa became Makybe Diva (pronounced mah-KY-bee DEE-vah). I think he was very lucky, as I've tried to do this before when creating team names and it does't usually work out so smoothly!

This was a slightly unusual way to name a horse, as it has generally been tradition to name a horse based on the name of their Sire (father) and Dam (mother). However it is not totally outside the rules - yes, there are rules for naming a racehorse, the same as there is for naming a child. In Australia, a brief overview of the rules are:

1. The maximum length of a name is 18 characters, including spaces.
2. Names can't be repeated for 20 years
3. Rude, offensive or racist words are not allowed.
4. Names can't promote a public company
5. Numbers up to 25 are not allowed, due to potential confusion for race callers. Eg One, Two, Three or First, Second, Third are not allowed.
6. But numbers is used in conjunction with other words, such as First Love will be considered
7. Letters must be spelt out. Eg Pea Kay. A & I are acceptable as a single letter as part of a horse's full name.
8. Names will not be considered if single letters are expected to be pronounced. A name must be pronounceable as words and understandable to the general public. Eg RUFIRST will not be considered, however, AREYOUFIRST will be considered.
9. Combinations of first name & surname (eg.,John Smith) will not be considered. Two first names will be considered (eg., John David)

It's interesting to see how race horse names are policed, but makes sense .

Whatever you're doing today, have a good one and try to catch the race at 3pm Melbourne time. I drew #14 Green Moon in our sweepstakes at work, which isn't a favourite to win but I guess anything can happen!


  1. Great post on racehorse names, and I agree - Makybe Diva is fantastic as a smoosh. I have seen one or two little girls named Makybe; maybe they were born on Melbourne Cup Day!

    Congratulations on drawing the winner - I actually picked Green Moon to win! I NEVER pick the winner, so yesterday was an amazing race day for me.

    1. Wow, I didn't realise anyone had used Makybe!

      Congratulations on your win! I regretted not actually putting any money on it, but the sweepstakes win was a great surprise :)