The stamps feature original artwork of eight champion horses—four flat racers and four National Hunt horses—achieving their greatest wins on U.K. race courses over six decades. The horses featured are Frankel; Red Rum; Shergar; Kauto Star; Desert Orchid; Brigadier Gerard; Arkle: and Estimate. The stamps’ Aug. 6 launch marked the 40th anniversary of Red Rum’s history-making third Grand National win.
“British Racing has been going on for almost as long as the Royal Mail and it is great for it to be recognised in this way,” said British horse racing journalist, presenter and former jockey Brough Scott.
THE SPORT OF KINGS
Known as the “sport of kings,” horse racing was organized through the 17th-century patronage of James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and Charles I, who saw Newmarket, Suffolk become the sport’s home.
Charles II founded a series of races at Newmarket and rode winners there in the 1660s. His enthusiasm led to powerful stallions being imported from the East—notably the Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Arabian, who arrived in Britain in the late 17th and early 18th centuries—resulting in all of the U.K.’s thoroughbred racehorses deriving from the offspring of these three founding sires.
“Horse racing is a British passion, and we pay tribute to eight legendary horses that have proven their greatness on U.K. race courses and won the affection of the public,” said Royal Mail Stamp Strategy Manager Philip Parker.
Royal Mail commissioned the artwork by renowned equestrian artist Michael Heslop. The paintings depict each horse in action in one of its legendary U.K. wins.
“I started painting race horses a long, long time ago,” said Heslop. “The reason I wanted to paint race horses is, for an artist they have everything; you paint form, you can paint movement. In that one image you’ve got horseflesh and you’ve got the silks of the jockey. Everything in that one image, that is really, really, worth painting.”
For more information, visit royalmail.com/racehorselegends.