Quick-thinking 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls was ahead of the game as he reserved the horse name Onethreefivenotout in honour of Ben Stokes’ century which won the third Ashes Test for England at Headingley.
The big-hitting all-rounder led an astonishing fightback against Australia on Sunday to ensure this summer’s Ashes stay alive at 1-1 with two to play.
Last month, leading owner Max McNeill reserved the name Champagnesuperover for a horse trained by Olly Murphy after – again thanks to Stokes – a thrilling Lord’s World Cup final went England’s way against New Zealand, in cricket’s equivalent of extra-time and penalties.
It was Nicholls who moved quickest this time, following another nail-biting afternoon – although he has not yet chosen a horse who will be assigned the name.
Nicholls told the PA news agency: “I was watching the match at home, like most people across the country, and I just thought it would be great to get in quickly and reserve the name.
“I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to watch cricket. But I like watching the big matches, and obviously this was so exciting – it was incredible to watch.
“I haven’t actually committed the name to a particular horse yet. I’ve got a few ideas, but we’ll sit on the fence for the time being.
“I just thought it would be a nice name for one of our owners, and we have it reserved now – which is great.”
Stokes fever has, of course, gripped the country as cricket rules the front and back pages for the second time in as many months – and officials at Carlisle Racecourse have made sure they too are part of it.
Carlisle is the Durham star’s local course, and will honour him by offering free entry for Thursday’s meeting to any racegoers with ‘Ben’ or ‘Stokes’ in their name.
Carlisle’s general manager Molly Dingwall said: “I’m not a big cricket fan, to be honest, but I got massively into it over the weekend – if you can’t like cricket after a day like that, then you’re never going to!
“I believe Ben Stokes moved up here when he was around 12 and grew up in the Carlisle region. To watch any sportsman do what he did on Sunday is just phenomenal, and it’s just an added extra from our point of view that he was brought up in the area.
“Anyone with the name ‘Ben’ or ‘Stokes’ in their name will get free entry on Thursday – and anyone who has already purchased tickets will be refunded if they come with a valid ID.”