British Horseracing Authority apologises over filly 'Jungle Bunny'

British Horseracing Authority is forced to apologise amid racism storm after filly called ‘Jungle Bunny’ ran at Wolverhampton – but owner says horse is named after grandson’s favourite video game

  • The horse ran on Saturday at Wolverhampton Racecourse at 50-1 odds
  • It finished sixth but prompted a storm of criticism over its name
  • Owner’s wife said it had been given the moniker after game Jungle Bunny Run

British Horseracing Authority officials have apologised and made a horse called ‘Jungle Bunny’ change its identity – despite the owner’s family insisting it was named after a computer game.

It followed a social media storm over the three-year-old filly which branded it racist and offensive.

The horse, sired from £150,000 prizewinner Bungle Inthejungle, came 6th in her Wolverhampton Racecourse ride on Saturday but immediately sparked the outrage.

Her name is the same as a derogatory term for a black person, and was said to have been completely missed by the BHA before the competition.

But Emma Evans, the wife of the horse’s owner-trainer David Evans, said it had just been inspired by a phone app played by his grandson as well as the filly’s parentage.

She said: ‘David’s daughter gave us the horse and there’s a computer game called Jungle Bunny Run.

The horse’s owner-trainer is David Evans and was said to have been named after a game

‘I just thought, that’ll do. I had no idea. It was completely innocent and that is the gospel truth. None of the staff said anything, nobody else said anything and I’m totally flabbergasted.

‘I’m upset because we’ve had our Sunday ruined by everybody ringing about it. It makes you look like a racist, which I am certainly not.’

The name sparked online criticism from horseracing fans, who questioned how it had not been noticed.

Jethro Lister said: ‘Can anyone explain how the racehorse name “Jungle Bunny” has been approved (debuts in the 18:15 at Wolverhampton)?

‘This is a highly offensive, derogatory racist term, and surely inappropriate.’

Buzz Betny said: ‘Jungle Bunny is a deeply offensive racist insult. I’m gobsmacked to see a horse with this name entered to run at Wolverhampton.

There were conflicting views about the name and how the BHA had tackled the outrage

Jungle Bunny Run is the game which the three-year-old horse was apparently named after

‘You have to withdraw this horse ASAP to try to limit a PR disaster!’

But others were bewildered by the offence caused.

Tony Holmes said: ‘Satire is not dead? Just saw that #BHA has rushed to take action & change the offensively named (? I hadn’t noticed!).’     

The BHA announced today it would by reviewing the process by which names are approved.

Her identity has since been changed and authorities were looking over their procedures for filtering out offensive names.

A spokesperson said: ‘Racist language is not tolerated in our sport, whether intentional or accidental.

‘We have taken steps to ensure the horse was renamed immediately. It is now called Jungle Bells. This will be reflected in records of the race result and horse form.

The horse (not pictured here) was in action at Wolverhampton Racecourse on Saturday

‘We are deeply concerned as to how this happened and are reviewing the processes for approving names of racehorses.’

But there was further confusion over the naming of the horse after the assistant trainer Emma Folkes also claimed responsiblity.

She said: ‘I didn’t have a clue. It was a totally innocent mistake.’

‘Nobody in the yard had said anything and I can only apologise.’

Millionaire owner Mr Evans has been at the centre of scandal before, but previously with his ex wife.

In 2001 it was reported he faced ‘ruin’ after his wife caught him with a jockey, aged 20.

He was booted out by furious wife Debbie, who was then 39, who was planning to divorce him after 12 years of marriage.

She said at the time: I’ve had enough. You can’t put up with it forever, you can’t put up with it for the next 30 years.

“He’s not very happy because he knows I’ll clean him out.” 

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