Potoooooooo – Newmarket, England - Atlas Obscura
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Newmarket, England

Potoooooooo

A misunderstanding gave this 18th-century racehorse a most amusing name. 

When it comes to naming racehorses, breeders aren’t afraid to get weird. But there’s perhaps no Thoroughbred with a name as unique—or amusing—as this.

In 1773, a healthy chestnut colt with a blaze was born. According to the lore, his owner, Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon, planned to name the foal “Potatoes,” and told a stablehand to write this chosen moniker on a feed bin.

But the stablehand made a bit of a mistake. He thought his boss had asked him to write “Pot-eight-O’s” and spelled the name as such. Supposedly, the earl was so amused by the gaffe, he kept the wonky spelling. (Some records shorten the name to Pot-8-Os or Pot8Os.)

Potoooooooo went on to have a successful racing career, racking up several wins. He retired from racing in 1784 and became a prolific stallion, siring more than 100 winners.

After Potoooooooo died in November of 1800, he was buried near a tree in Hare Park, the farm where he’d been retired. His body lay undisturbed for about 200 years, when a storm felled the tree and uprooted what’s believed to be his remains. Now, the skeleton stands within the National Horseracing Museum, in the company of other legendary—though less legendarily named—equines.

Know Before You Go

The National Horseracing Museum is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An adult ticket costs £12.

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