John Beer (British, 1860-1930)
1906 GRAND NATIONAL STEEPLECHASE (set of 5)
Watercolor, (1) 15” x 22”, (4) 10” x 18”
Signed, dated 1906
$5,500. – 6,500.
John Beer was one of several artists employed by noted sporting print makers Messrs. Fores. In the days before widespread photography use and certainly before images could be circulated quickly, the wire service would relay race results immediately to the gallery where Beer could quickly produce racing images that were placed in the windows for the public to see what had occurred. Mostly on the market are images of race finishes. Presented here is a rarer and more involved series of one race, in this case the important Grand National Steeplechase.
The 1906 Grand National began with a false start from Comfit before Phil May took an early lead. At Valentine’s Brook Oaklands and Timothy Titus led the way over the water until the fence by the Canal when Timothy Titus and Gladiator went down. At this point Ascetic’s Silver took the lead for the rest of the way, winning by a decisive 10 lengths with Red Lad following and Aunt May in third. Crautacaun and Pierre are also noted on the works. John M.P. Had been the favorite of the 23-horse field with 7-2 odds, while eventual winner Ascetic’s Silver had gone off at 20-1.
The chestnut Ascetic’s Silver was an Irish-bred chestnut by Ascetic, out of Silver Lady. He won the Irish Grand National of 1904 and had actually run in and crossed the line first in the Grand National of 1905 but unfortunately was riderless and thus disqualified. He would run in the Grand National again in 1907 and 1909, both times carrying high weight.
As noted by Beer on the work, Ascetic’s Silver was owned by Prince Franz von Hatzfeldt, a member of the noble German family originally from Hesse. He was married to the adopted daughter of American railroad baron Collis P. Huntington.
Ascetic’s Silver was trained as well as ridden by the Honourable Aubrey Hastings. An excellent polo player who won the All Ireland Open Cup, Rugby Open Cup, Roehampton Cup, County Cup, and Junior Championship at Roehampton, he was an all-around horseman. The 1906 Grand National was his only victory as a rider. However, he also trained Lady Nelson’s Ally Sloper to win the 1915 event; Ballymacad, the 1917 champion; and Lord Arlie’s Master Robert, the 1924 winner, thus giving Hastings four Grand National champions.