Ashforth's Angles: Girtin out to paint a pretty picture

The Queen at Royal Ascot

The Queen: will she be watching Monday’s action at Windsor?

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By David Ashforth 6:00PM 14 AUG 2016 

THE QUEEN is and yet may not be at Royal Windsor on Monday evening. She may be there for “Rock at the Races” together, appropriately, with the Queen tribute band ‘Mercury’ but I suspect is more likely to be at home watching Matt Chapman on At The Races, making the occasional regal observation with a royal finger poised over the mute button.

Sadly, the Queen has had only two runners at her “home” course this season and has not had a winner there for over two years. Maybe it’s the prize money.

Never mind, there’s royalty of a different kind on display, in the form of owner Richard Green, represented by Thomas Girtin (5.30).

Green, now 80, is the doyen of art dealership and worth about as much as the Queen. Visiting his spectacular New Bond Street art gallery is rather like visiting Buckingham Palace but with more valuable paintings.

Green’s father, James, represented Sir Alfred Munnings and Green’s interest in paintings of horses has embraced the real thing for several decades. In the early years, when racing as Richard Green (Fine Paintings), many of his horses incorporated his own name. Later they sometimes bore the name of artists, some of whom ran surprisingly quickly.

John Ferneley, a nineteenth century artist who specialised in hunters and hunting scenes, won the Lincoln, posthumously, in 2000. Green’s best horse has been Art Connoisseur, winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2008 and of the Golden Jubilee Stakes, ditto, in 2009 when trained by Michael Bell.

Thomas Girtin, an innovative watercolourist, died when only 27, prompting J M W Turner to exclaim: “If Tom had lived I would have starved.” Green’s gallery currently displays a wonderful Girtin painting of St Paul’s Cathedral, bought at auction last year for £125,000 after being discovered in the attic of a house in Anglesey. Never buy a house which doesn’t have an attic.

Thomas Girtin the horse is currently worth rather less, having cost €45,000 in May and finished last on his debut two months later. I expect he’ll get better.

In recent years Green has concentrated his horses in the hands of Gary Moore. In bloodstock terms, the horses have been in mid-price range – Art Connoisseur cost 55,000 guineas and Group 3 winner Dutch Masterpiece €67,000. It must be tempting to say, “Come on, you’re 80, how about selling a couple of masterpieces and having a real crack at it?”

Encapsulated (5.00 Chelmsford) cost trainer Roger Ingram a modest 10,500 guineas as a three-year-old and has won four times, three when ridden by his daughter Rhiain, who has become a capable apprentice. Having finished runner-up over course and distance on his recent return from a break and now better drawn Encapsulated will hopefully give Rhiain her eighth winner of the year.

In Luke Morris’s absence it is interesting that Sir Mark Prescott has booked Jim Crowley for Monjeni (Chelmsford 4.00). It is the first time, I think, that they have teamed up. Good luck. On Monjeni, Crowley will need it.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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