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07 Dec 2021

No ‘fs’ or ‘butts’, initially I got it wrong

They’re wrong, I smugly said to myself, when commentators in both press and television banged on about Aidan O’Brien being the first to train three consecutive Epsom Derby winners.

They’re wrong, I smugly said to myself, when commentators in both press and television banged on about Aidan O’Brien being the first to train three consecutive Epsom Derby winners.

In previewing the big race on this page, I checked the records to see if any trainer had managed the hat-trick, and there it was: 1935 Bahram, trained by F Butters; 1936 Mahmoud, trained by F Butters; 1937 Midday Sun, trained by F Butters.

That was good enough for me, and, accordingly, I wrote that if Australia – or any of the other three Ballydoyle representatives – won the race, O’Brien would become the first since the late 1930s to complete this considerable feat. Australia duly obliged, and immediately the word was about that his trainer had made history.

It would be wrong to say I consulted the bible for clarification; what I actually did was send off an email to The Racing Post. Luckily, I didn’t dive in with something like, “You and the others have got it wrong”. What I did say was: “My records show that F Butters trained three consecutive winners.......” And I then went on to name them.

My letter didn’t appear – for a very good reason. Kind enough to send me a reply, the Editor gently pointed out that Midday Sun was trained by Fred Butters, while the other two were in the care of Fred’s older brother, Frank.

I emailed the Ed, thanking him for going to the bother of putting me right, and then cursed Mr and Mrs Butters for giving each of their sons a Christian name beginning with an ‘f’.

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