Sun Chariot by Sir Alfred Munnings
This sketch by Sir Alfred Munnings shows Sun Chariot with Sir Gordon Richards and was probably produced in 1943. It is a study for a larger painting and indicative of the number of drawings Munnings produced to get to the final work.
During World War Two horseracing success was used to lift the spirits of a country which had been at war since 1939 and on 2 August 1943 on an uncomfortably hot day the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth joined the bank holiday crowd at Ascot to watch three races. They went into the paddock to see their filly Sunblind saddled for the Eton Stakes ( in which she was just beaten). They then presented Fred Darling (1883-1953) with a painting of Sun Chariot, by Munnings. Sun Chariot was one of Darling’s most successful horses and had assisted him in becoming Champion Trainer in 1942. The painting was kept at Beckhampton, Wiltshire where Darling trained. From 1932 until his retirement the stable jockey was Gordon Richards who said of Sun Chariot ‘ the greatest racehorse I’ve ever been crossed’.
The painting can be seen in the Heroes and Legends gallery at the National Heritage Centre.
Dr Patricia Hardy