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Friday, August 10, 2007

Give ’em two 10x8s and they want a mile

By Albert Cooper
What is it that makes sports editors think photographers are super-human?

When I joined the Sun as northern sports photographer in 1965, one of my first horse racing assignments was to photograph the start of the flat season, the Lincolnshire handicap, at Doncaster Racecourse.

I stood by the winning post and photographed the winners of the first two races. Then walked the mile back to the start to capture the required ‘start of the first flat classic’.

I was very pleased with they way things had gone, and rushed off to do my Sterling Moss driving bit, to get the film back to the Manchester office as quickly as possible in a 1100cc Ford Popular – as photographers did, in those days.

Back in the Oxford Road office, I took the results of my labour to the sports desk, and proudly laid my prints, one by one, in front of the sports editor. A good sharp picture of the winning horse passing the post, in the first race, and a similar one of the winner of the second.

Then my masterpiece, my photograph of the start with the horses as they leapt forward to take their place under the traditional back page headline, ‘They’re off!’

No compliments, just dismay on the face of the sports editor, as he said, ‘Templegate had the treble today. Where’s the photograph of the winner passing the post to win the third race?’

To which I replied: ‘I couldn't keep up with it! Carrying the camera kept slowing me down…’