Alken, Sr., Henry Thomas
Henry Thomas Alken, Sr. (British, 1785-1851)
DEAD HEAT FOR THE DONCASTER ST. LEGER 1850
BETWEEN VOLTIGUER AND RUSSBOROUGH
Oil on canvas, 14" x 21"
Signed, inscribed Dead Heat for the Doncaster, St Leger and dated 1850
Frost & Reed, London
The Sporting Gallery & Bookshop, Inc., New York
The Estate of Mrs. William R. Wister, Oldwick, New Jersey
The 1850 St. Leger was run at Doncaster on September 18 and finished as a dead heat between Lord Zetland's Voltigeur (red spots) and Mr. Mangan's Russborough. As was customary at this period, the two horses then competed in a run-off with Voltigeur emerging triumphant. Voltigeur had already won the Epsom Derby and was a strong favorite for the race at odds of 8 to 13, while the Irish-bred Russborough was pegged at 20 to 1. Voltigeur was a brown colt by Voltaire out of Martha Lynn, bred by Mr. Stephenson, and foaled in 1847. He won a total of six races including the famous Doncaster Cup of 1850 in which he defeated the 1849 Derby winner, The Flying Dutchman. This is the only occasion in the history of the British Turf that two Derby winners (both also won the St. Leger) have clashed on the racecourse. After the Flying Dutchman's defeat his owner, Lord Eglington, challenged Lord Zetland to a private re-match, which was accepted. Known as "The Great Match" the race took place at Knavesmire on May 13, 1851, with The Flying Dutchman taking his revenge for the earlier defeat.
Alken also painted a smaller, preparatory oil sketch of this subject on panel, which was sold at Sotheby's, London on November 30, 2000.