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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Ken Butler, one of the ITV7 originals, dies at the age of 94

ITV presenter Ken Butler, who has died at the age of 94
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Ken Butler, broadcaster, television producer and one of the original ITV7 racing team, wine merchant, author and an owner and breeder, has died at the age of 94.

While he will be remembered for his ITV7 roles, Butler, who lived in Dormansland, the neighbouring village to Lingfield, was a long-time owner and breeder with horses trained in Epsom by Philip Mitchell and Simon Dow.

Butler was fondly remembered on Wednesday by both trainers, as well as former television colleague Brough Scott.

Mitchell said: “He was a lovely man who understood racing, a fantastic man to train for. He was a complete and utter realist, knowing all the ups and downs, but my goodness how he enjoyed the ups – and we had plenty of them.

“I remember training some good fillies for him, including Budget Queen, who was third in the Lincoln in 1979, and Stardyn, who Ray McGhin struck up a great understanding with to win quite a few – they would have been rated in the 90s these days.

“Whenever we had success there was always a case of the finest claret arriving on the doorstep a few days later.”

Butler continued to breed on a small scale and Dow was his last trainer, his last winner being Autumn Tonic at Chelmsford three years ago.

Dow said: “It was always a privilege to spend time with Ken as he had such a passion for racing and loved his small breeding operation. He was a friend who was always very supportive, had great patience and will be much missed.”

Scott, who joined ITV Racing after retiring as a jockey, said: "I remember going in very vulnerable as the new boy at 28 and he was very kind to me and very generous. I have only pleasant memories of him and I never heard him raise his voice or have a bad word for anyone." 

Simon Dow: it was always a privilege to spend time with Ken
Butler was born into the Lambert & Butler tobacco dynasty based in London but eschewed the trade and started work as the manager of outside broadcasts for Rediffusion, pushing racing whenever given a chance in the 1950s.

That came after a wartime army career, during which he won the Military Cross.

He first came to public notice in 1963 when becoming paddock commentator for ITV Racing, their production some years later becoming the popular ITV7 which enlivened Saturday's World of Sport, presented by Dickie Davies.

Butler also presented the programme and commentated on occasions, before turning in 1982 to his second love, wine. He built up a business as a wine merchant that he had started while working for ITV and which led to him sponsoring many races.

He ventured into writing fiction in the 1980s, with a book, All Change, drawing on his experiences in the wine trade, racing, and the loss of his second wife.

A private family funeral will be held this month.

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Whenever we had success there was always a case of the finest claret arrive on the doorstep a few days later
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