The story of “Filho da puta”

First and foremost, I’m sorry for my french, “Filho da Puta” is an offensive Portuguese phrase meaning “bastard” or “son of a bitch.”

Dom Domingos de Sousa Coutinho, 1st Count of Funchal and embassator of Portugal in England in the begining of the XIX century, loved equestrian activities. In an auction scooped a filly, naming it “Mrs. Barnett”, the name of the english widow with whom he was playing horsey. Mrs. Barnett (the mare) had a discrete campaign in british tracks, suffered an injury and could not run, the ambassador gave it to friend, an english Lord and a horse breeder.

A year later, when Mrs. Barnett (the mare) was about to give birth, the Lord invited the ambassador to witness the event. The mare gave birth to a beautiful colt, indeed a fine specimen. As a tribute, the english Lord asked his friend to baptise the colt with a name typical of Portugal. At the time Mrs. Barnett(the widow) had ditched the ambassador for a younger man, an officer of the Royal Navy. The wounded ambassador chipped the first name that came to mind when seeing the colt standing: son of Mrs. Barnett, can only be called “Filho da puta”.

“Filho da puta” won the St. Leger race in 1815, plus eight other major awards, was immortalized by the painter John Frederick Herrin, and reproduced in thousands of prints spread worldwide.


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