Buggerlugs: Yorkshire racehorse owner outraged after being ordered to change 'inappropriate' name

A Yorkshire racehorse owner has said he is 'devastated' after being ordered to change the name of his latest colt.

Nick Rhodes, who gives all his horses Yorkshire-themed names, registered his two-year-old colt Buggerlugs last year, after the affectionate nickname his father, Les, called him as a child.

After his father's death, he decided to honour his memory by using the nickname, and had the name and registration signed off around six months ago.

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The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term as "used for referring or speaking to someone in a slightly insulting but friendly way, especially someone you like".

Nick Rhodes with one of his horses

But a day before Buggerlugs was due to run his first race, Mr Rhodes was contacted by the authorities to say they'd had a complaint against the name and he had to change it, or they would pull him from the race.

To express his anger at the decision, he changed the name to Sling Yer Hook who finished seventh in the race at Beverley.

"It's discrimination and prejudice against the people of Yorkshire," he said. "I wish I hadn't changed the name and just let them pull him now, to be honest. There's nothing wrong with it. It's a term of endearment.

"We submitted the name six months ago and it was accepted. It's on his passport. We have a contract signed to say that's his name and there were no issues then.

Buggerlugs, which has changed to Sling Yer Hook.

"We asked them why and they said they'd had complaints and when I asked them how many, they said one."

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Mr Rhodes, who is a retired chairman of mortgage brokers New Homes Group, said The British Horseracing Authority had told him it had a single complaint about the name, as it features a swear word.

"They're trying to split it up but that's not what the word is, or what it's about. The name is Buggerlugs and it's a term of endearment. Everytime I hear the word I think of my father calling it me as a child," he added.

Mr Rhodes, who worked across the country before returning to Yorkshire around a decade ago, holds fond memories of his first trip to the Ebor meeting at York Racecourse in 1964.

"I'm York born and bred. Nine or 10 years ago we moved back to Yorkshire to be closer to my father and we got involved in syndicates at first, but then owning horses too.

"I'm very proud of my Yorkshire roots and of Yorkshire, so I decided to give our first horse a Yorkshire name. We called him Yorkshire Pudding."

Since then, he has also owned Eeh Bah Gum, which won four races in a row in 2018, culminating in a win at the Ebor. His wife Lena sets up Facebook pages for each horse they own where people can track the progress of them from foals to training and running.

He said the reaction to the ban on the page has been vociferous, and is now considering starting a petition to force BHA to change the name back.

"We'd printed merchandise which we send to people who follow us on the Facebook page," he added. "We don't charge for it. It's just something to give back to the people who support us.

"Everyone on there is saying that it's not a bad word, and that their father or grandfather called it them when they were little. You can see how much it means to people in the comments. I said it's discrimination against Yorkshire, but there are people saying they were called it when they were younger too who are from all over the country.

"We're going to start a petition, and ask our followers to highlight other names which are worse than Buggerlugs - even though there's nothing wrong with it. I think we can get at them that way. It is very expensive to go to court."

A spokesperson for the BHA said: “On further consideration, the name was viewed as inappropriate.”