The Cambridgeshire handicap was first run at Newmarket in 1839 and alongside the Cesarewitch forms the first leg of the Autumn Double. Normally contested at the end of September the nine furlong handicap is open to horses of three years and older.
Benjamin Herring (1830-71) painted 'The Start of the Cambridgeshire Stakes' in 1867 towards the end of his life as he died aged forty-one. He therefore produced a relatively small amount of work and the Museum is fortunate to have this painting on display. This work was given to the Museum by Paul Mellon, a great philanthropist and racing enthusiast who was also a member of the British Sporting Art Trust, which has its permanent home in the Packard Galleries here.
Benjamin was the youngest of a large family, mostly all artists who specialised in animal painting. His father, John Herring Senior (1795-65) painted ' A Frugal Meal' on display in the Packard Galleries at the Heritage Centre. Their style is so similar that there have been suggestions that in later life Benjamin forged his father's work.
Here thirty three riders line up for the start of the race, all clearly differentiated by their coloured silks and the distinctive forms of their horses. Benjamin Herring uses a careful palette and in this well constructed composition gives a sense of the crowded nature of the scene with each jockey trying to obtain a good position, while keeping his horse calm for the start.
The Palace House Shop at the Heritage Centre and Rowley Mile stock a range of products that have been designed with this stunning image.