Horse Racing Paintings by Equestrian Artist
Prix De L'Amerique

French Harness Racing Championship race

From Newmarket to Newton Stewart - Galloway Sets the Pace!

Galloway has not much more to remind us of its distant connections with horse racing than the 'Bladnoch Trot' and, now, an equestrian artist named Harvey Mayson. Harvey relocated to Wigtown from the Newmarket area of Suffolk almost eighteen months ago, so Sunday 12th June 2005 was his second visit to the area's annual harness racing event. It was earlier this year, after having received an inquiry for original artwork pertaining to this very subject, that cross-Channel negotiations began, resulting in a 36" x 24" oil on canvas painting being commissioned to depict a scene from the Prix De L'Amerique - the top international trotting event.

Most of Harvey's previous commissions had been of racing scenes, but this was his first assignment to harness racing. The painting was duly completed and on Monday 6th June Franck Cymes, of France Television in Paris, was delighted to receive his purchase, congratulating the artist on his great work. The artist has also completed a consignment of eight individual oil paintings in the past year, commissioned by the owner of an international arts company in Canada, so the subject of horse racing is making its way around the globe, once more from Galloway.

Relative to this story is the fact that this area played a hugely important role in the origins of British horse racing. The age-old 'Sport of Kings', Harness Racing and even Polo all owe more than just a passing 'thanks' to the region. Rysdyk's Hambletonian is cited as the foundation sire of most, if not all, of today's harness racing Standardbreds. He was a direct descendent of 'Messenger', a British Thoroughbred exported to America around 1788. But from where does the Thoroughbred originate? History dictates that it may well have been right here in Scotland! The name Galloway is globally famous. Long before the arrival of gleaming leggy Thoroughbreds, the Scots were breeding racehorses. The Galloway Horses were tough little creatures and deemed to be amongst the fastest in Britain. They can, in addition, lay claim to being "the taproot of Polo Pony breeding". Names such as 'Bald Galloway', the 'Warlock Galloway', the 'Shield Galloway' and the 'Mixbury Galloway' are all mentioned in the introductory section of the Polo Pony Stud Book (1901).

There is absolutely no disputing the fact that Galloway horses existed, nor is there any disputing the fact that they were the predecessors of modern racehorses in the UK, but what became of the Galloways? Over hundreds of years, many metamorphosed into what we now call Thoroughbreds. To complement the size and speed of our diminutive Scottish horses, breeders in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries began importing stallions, including the Byerley Turk, the Godolphin Arabian, and the Darley Arabian. These three bloodlines, which were undoubtedly bred to Galloway mares, remain to this day. Where does that place the Classic winners and Grand National heroes of our time... horses like Shergar and Mill Reef, Desert Orchid and Red Rum? The answer is simple; they may all be descendants of the Galloways.

©Susan King

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