Royal Mail today launches a set of special stamps that pay tribute to some of the world’s most successful racehorse legends - including some much-loved by Goodwood race-goers down the years.
The stamps feature original artwork of eight champion horses achieving their greatest wins on UK race courses over six decades; four flat racers and four National Hunt horses.
The horses featured are Frankel, Red Rum, Shergar, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Brigadier Gerard, Arkle and Estimate.
The stamps launch in the year marking the 40th anniversary of Red Rum’s history-making third Grand National win.
Known as the sport of kings, it was due to the 17th-century patronage of James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and Charles I that Newmarket in Suffolk developed into the home of organised horse racing.
It was during the reign of Charles II, who founded a series of races at Newmarket and who himself rode winners there in the 1660s, that the sport began to be established.
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 – which resulted in all of the UK’s thoroughbred racehorses today deriving from the offspring of these three founding sires.
Royal Mail commissioned the artwork by renowned equestrian artist, Michael Heslop. The paintings depict each horse in action in one of its legendary UK wins.
British horse racing journalist, presenter, and former jockey, Brough Scott said: “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.”
Mr Heslop said: “I started painting racehorses a long, long time ago... 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.”
Royal Mail stamp strategy manager Philip Parker said: “Horseracing is a British passion, and we pay tribute to eight legendary horses that have proven their greatness on UK race courses and won the affection of the public.”
The stamps are on sale from today at www.royalmail.com/racehorselegends and from 7,000 Post Office branches across the UK and by calling 03457 641 641.
Today and tomorrow a replica Royal Mail coach and horses will be in attendance at the Grand National Festival at Aintree.
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