Baby born in Australia, named after Melbourne Cup winner (1936)


Australia’s biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, has been held every year since 1861.

On November 3, 1936, a horse from New Zealand named Wotan (pronounced VO-tahn) won the race — despite being a 100-to-1 underdog. His surprise victory was one of the biggest upsets in the race’s history.

The same day, a baby boy was born at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney. The baby’s father, Gregory Swain, announced that his son’s name would be Gregory Wotan Swain.

“I had no money on the winner. He was my Cup — a fine boy, 7 1/2 lb., when born. Our first,” Swain explained.

He expressed surprise to know that Wotan was also one of the names given to the god of battle by the Anglo-Saxons.

The name Wotan is a variant of Woden, which was indeed the name of a major Anglo-Saxon/Germanic deity. Woden and his Norse counterpart, Odin, can trace their names back to a reconstructed proto-Germanic word meaning something along the lines of “raging, mad, inspired.”

Related name story: A baby girl named Jacqueline, born a few years ago in Ireland, was also named after a racehorse. (Her dad was the jockey.)


Image: Adapted from Dealer’s pic without lead rope by Cjambla under CC BY-SA 3.0.

2 thoughts on “Baby born in Australia, named after Melbourne Cup winner (1936)

  1. This is just anecdotally, but I believe there were children named after the harness racing champ Dan Patch too.

    Might be fun to research whether that’s true.

  2. Interesting!

    I haven’t found any news items on babies named Dan Patch (yet?) but I have found a couple of people with the first-middle combo “Dan Patch” who were born in the first years of the 1900s — Dan Patch Behrens for instance. So there could definitely be some truth to this.

    I’ll let you know if I find anything conclusive…

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