Fine 1950's English sporting oil on canvas depicting jockeys at the 6 furlong post at Brighton Racecourse by R. L. Harvey. Excellent quality work, signed lower right. Presented in its original swept painted frame with typed label on the reverse.
Artist: R. L. Harvey (English, 20th century)
Title: At the 6 Furlong Post at Brighton
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 25 x 31.5 inches (64 x 80 cm) including frame
Brighton Racecourse is an English horse racing venue located a mile to the northeast of the centre of Brighton, Sussex.
The Duke of Cumberland organised the first public racing at the current site in 1783 although racing had been taking place in Brighton since before 1713. Early races were contested by members of the armed forces who were garrisoned in the town. The principal meeting took place in July or August and was timed to fit with the local Whitehawk Fair, which was discontinued by the 1820s.
According to legend, King George IV, when still Prince of Wales, invented hurdle racing at Brighton while out riding with aristocratic friends. They found some sheep pens which they proceeded to jump. A grandstand was erected in 1788, but burnt down on 23 August 1796, a fire blamed on a family of paupers who had been allowed to live in it.
Wigstead and Rowlandson comment in "An Excursion to Brighthelmstone made in the year 1789", "The race-ground is exceedingly well adapted to the purpose for which it is intended and is one of the most beautifully situated spots in the world..."
It was the custom of the Prince of Wales, later George IV, in the early 19th century to make his way up Race Hill in a barouche drawn by six greys.
In 1805, the races were faced with severe disruption when the farmer who leased the racecourse threatened to plough it up unless he received the complimentary gift of wine he usually received each season. He was in the process of beginning to plough when he was chased off by a press gang and the races allowed to continue.
The course was home for a while to top class racing, and was attended by fashionable society, but it drifted out of fashion when the Prince and his friends ceased to attend in 1816, although the Brighton Stakes was a "race of note" inaugurated in 1824. By 1850, the railway had arrived in Brighton, allowing greater access for Londoners, and the course began to thrive again. A new stand was built, and the Brighton Cup inaugurated. Brighton's main meeting formed part of the "Sussex Fortnight" in summer - where the Glorious Goodwood festival was followed up by big meetings at Brighton and Lewes.
In 1850, admission to the betting ring and stand was four shillings; a ticket for three days was 10s 6d. Racing began at 1.30pm, with seven races at half-hourly intervals.
Crowds rose to over 20,000 in the period following the Second World War. At the time, grandstands existed on both sides of the home straight. In the 1960s, the course held a Derby Trial for six years. No runners went on to win the Derby, but two won the St. Leger.
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