John Frederick Herring, Sr.

John Frederick Herring, Sr. (British, 1795-1865)



Oil on canvas, in a carved wood frame, 21 1⁄2” x 29 1⁄2”

Signed l.r.: J.F.Herring 1823

$50,000. – 70,000.


PLENIPOTENTIARY, or 'Plenipo' as he was often called, was bred by long-time Jockey Club member Stanlake Batson, of Horseheath, Cambridgeshire in 1831. Plenipo stood 15.2 hands and was said to have been an incredibly muscular and extraordinarily beautiful horse. He did not run until the age of three but he was such an astonishing sight that a bookmaker offered odds of 30-1 for Plenipo to win the 1834 Derby in October of 1833. Apparently the betting public liked the price because the odds quickly shrank to 15-1. In April at Newmarket, Plenipo made his first start, a _50 sweepstakes, which he won with ease. At the same meet he ran again, in a _100 sweepstakes against a stronger field, and one horse in particular, Glencoe, was expected to give Plenipo a real challenge. Theo Taunton, author of Famous Horses, relays the following encounter between Jem Robinson, Glencoe's jockey, and Patrick Conolly, who rode Plenipoteniary. "Robinson whose orders were to try and cut down Plenipo by the severity of the pace remarked after the race 'I came the first half mile as hard as I could lick; but on looking round, I saw the great fat bullock cantering by my side.' Conolly, at the same time exclaiming 'I'm here Master Jemmy, only waiting till I'm wanted' Glencoe, believed till then to be the fastest horse of his day, was beaten four lengths."
In the Derby at Epsom, Plenipo overtook Glencoe early and needed only a hand ride from Conolly to beat the field by two lengths. His performance was so convincing that the editor of The Sporting Review, John William Carelton (AKA Craven,) recalled Plenipo's Derby performance nearly 30 years later in 1865: "Where we asked however to name the best horse that ever won a Derby, we should be inclined to say this was Mr. Batson's Plenipotentiary, the hero of 1834. Certainly one of the very best colts Lord Jersey ever brought out was Glencoe whose blood is now amongst the most fashionable alike in England and America who won the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes and the Goodwood Cup of the same year and yet Glencoe could never make Plenipotentiary gallop. Plenipotentiary was a horse of extraordinary power and substance, but withal very blood-like and with beautiful action." It was reported by multiple sources that Plenipotentiary defeated one of the best horses of the era, Glencoe, while at a canter.
In the 1835 St. Leger Stakes, Plenipotentiary suffered his first and only loss. Plenipo was the favorite at 12-10 and he was expected to coast to victory. But something went terribly wrong and Plenipo finished 10th out of 11 horses. What caused the lapse in form was a matter of widespread speculation, but it was generally thought that the great horse had been poisoned and that the bookmakers (perhaps the gent that had Plenipo at 30-1) were the culprits. Theo Taunton wrote the following account of the incident: "Plenipo was dead beaten early in the race and the further he went, the further he was left behind. Foul play had most effectually done its work and he was not only made safe for the day, but his constitution was utterly ruined. Plenipo was a very difficult horse to saddle and still more so to mount, rearing, plunging and kicking and using every effort to prevent Conolly getting into the saddle, but on the St. Leger day he made not the slightest show of resistance. Indeed Conolly after an attempt at a preliminary canter observed to John Scott "my horse is as dead as a stone" Despite Taunton's assertion that Plenipo's constitution had been ruined he won his last two races, one being the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, before he was retired to stud.
"He retired to the accolade: 'Here stands 'the crack' of his day, as well as every other Ñ a horse such as we ne'er shall look upon the like again, the wonderful Ñ the unequaled - the ill-used 'Plenipo.'
" Richard Ulbrich, The Great Stallion Book.

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000

Final Sale Price: