Oil on canvas, 22” x 27 1⁄2”
Signed, inscribed & dated 1895
$15,000. – 20,000.
Theo Taunton, Famous Horses, Simpson, Low and Co., 1895, page 350
St. Simon was bred by Prince Gustavus Batthyany of Hungary in 1881. Upon the prince’s death from a heart attack at the 1883 Two Thousand Guineas, his entire stable, including the 2-year-old colt St. Simon, was dispersed at the Tattersalls July Sale in Newmarket. The Duke of Portland, a mere 25 years old and relatively new to the sport, purchased St. Simon for 1,800 guineas. The horse he wanted, however, was the horse that went through the ring immediately before St. Simon (on which the Duke had unsuccessfully bid). Feeling defeated, he settled on St. Simon, a bay horse whose trainer had painted the horse’s hocks white to dissuade bidders. (Fortunately for the Duke of Portland, the original trainer of St. Simon, John Dawson, was the brother of his own trainer, Matthew Dawson, who probably suspected that his brother wanted to keep the horse for himself.)
St. Simon’s initial days of training didn’t prove promising. His stride was awkward and jumpy and he was considered less than coordinated. Nevertheless, the Duke of Portland and Matthew Dawson pressed on.
Their faith in the horse paid off. St. Simon won 10 races and was never defeated. His principal performance was winning the Ascot Gold Cup in 1884 by an incredible 20 lengths. It is said he was so strong it took almost an entire lap of the course for his jockey, Fred Archer, to pull him up. He went on to win the Gold Cup at Goodwood in another impressive manner, never breaking into a full gallop, defeating Ossian, winner of the St Leger. Dawson “declared St. Simon to have been the best animal he ever had under his care,” according to Theo Taunton’s Famous Horses. Though he never competed in the classic races, St. Simon was still hailed as the champion of his crop and one of the best racehorses of all time.