WA Guineas winner Rommel is among the select group of gallopers to rate a mention in Fifty Shades of Hay: The Extraordinary World of Racehorse Names, my former Racing Post colleague David Ashforth’s brilliant book.

Rommel, which stands at Mogumber Stud after starring on the track for owner Santo Guagliardo, trainer Neville Parnham and two of the Parnham jockeys, Chris and Steven, features in the Power, Politics and Philosophy chapter of Fifty Shades of Hay: The Extraordinary World of Racehorse Names, which Racing Post Books published in 2018. I received the funniest of Ashforth’s many tomes as a Christmas present, and I had read it from cover to cover before Boxing Day.

“It is fitting that in racing, as in history, there have been several Rommels. The most widely accepted Rommel is that of the able and chivalrous Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), regarded as a ‘good’ German commander during the Second World War, a gentleman soldier whose involvement in the abortive 1944 plot to kill Hitler led to his suicide. (Rommel’s, not Hitler’s. That came later).

“Revisionist historians have painted a less flattering picture of Rommel but one that still compares favourably with his Nazi contemporaries and equine alter egos.

“In Britain, Rommel (1997) Baron Blakeney – Sizzling Sun (Sunyboy) was a flop. His score under Rules was nought from five and, in point-to-points, one from 22. The one was at Kingston Blount in 2003.

“It may be that he was best in North Africa, although in Australia, Rommel (2001) Commands – I’mtoogoodtobetrue (Good And Tough) fared better. His four wins embraced the Group 2 WA Guineas at Ascot in 2014 and Group 3 Zeditave Stakes at Caulfield the following year.

“The best-named Rommel was Rommels Gold (2002) Desert Fox – Suzy O’Neill (Gold Broze).

“The Desert Fox was Rommel’s nickname. I’ve no idea who Suzy O’Neill was but Rommels Gold won two small races at Murray Bridge and Mount Gambier in South Australia in 2009 and 2010, so I expect she was pleased.”

Fifty Shades of Hay: The Extraordinary World of Racehorse Names, by David Ashforth

By the way, David, Suzy [sic] O’Neill is a retired Australian swimming champion who won two Olympic Games gold medals in spite of her Madame Butterfly nickname.

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