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Thursday, August 19, 2004


A Collection of Arkle Racing Memorabilia to be offered in September

Property from Two Ducal Collections - Christie's at Woburn, Bedfordshire 20 and 21 September 2004

London - Christie's will offer a collection of racing memorabilia relating to Arkle, Britain's best loved race horse of all time, as part of the sale of Property from Two Ducal Collections at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire on 20 and 21 September 2004. The Arkle collection was formed by Her Grace Anne, Duchess of Westminster, one of the most popular and successful Post War National Hunt racehorse owners, and the proceeds of the sale will raise funds for the numerous charities she supported. The collection of twenty lots, focussing on the legendary Arkle and his indomitable rider Pat Taafe, range in price from A350 to A35,000 enabling racing fans a unique opportunity to acquire pieces of racing history.

Arkle, who was crowned 'Britain's Favourite Racehorse', ahead of Desert Orchid and Red Rum, by Readers of the Racing Post earlier this year, was the legendary winner of three Cheltenham Gold Cups and many other notable races. Achieving a treble after winning three consecutive years at Cheltenham, in 1964, 1965 and 1966, a feat only to have been completed by two other horses before him, he was also awarded the highest steeplechaser Timeform rating of 212 (even higher than Desert Orchid's of 187).

The highlight of the collection is a painted maquette of Arkle, circa 1970, modelled after the orginal bronze sculpture of Arkle by Doris Lindner which stands at Cheltenham racecourse. The maquette stands over 1 metre tall and is expected to fetch £500-£800. A set of racing silks in the Duchess of Westminster's colours, striking yellow silk with a horizontal black band to the chest, and a black velvet cap with gold tassel, as well as a pair of binoculars stamped 'Duchess of Westminster, Eaton', in a brown leather case, embossed 'A.W.' with the Ducal coronet, are both offered with an estimate of £100-200.

Paintings include Lionel Edwards's Arkle with Pat Taafe up, Cheltenham (estimate: £3,000-5,000), Arkle with Pat Taafe Up, an oil on canvas board by Angela Conner (estimate: £800-1,200) and Arkle, A Head Study by Madelaine Selfe in coloured chalks (estima3te: 100-200). Further Arkle memorabilia includes a bottle of 1853 Hennessey cognac presented to the Duchess in memory of Arkle (estimate: £100-200), a collection of Dick Francis novels, including a hard barck copy of 'Come to Grief', inscribed by the author, 'Anne Westminster, Arkle never came to grief!' (estimate: £200-300), a cartoon of Anne, Duchess of Westminster with Arkle by David Langdon (estimate: £80-120), a Beswick equestrian group entitled Arkle with Pat Taafe Up (estimate: £300-500) and a carved fruitwood model of Arkle by F. Zolick (estimate: £400-500).

Anne, Duchess of Westminster, bought Arkle as an unbroken three-year old in 1960 for 1150 guineas. Named after a mountain close to the Duchess's estate in Lochmore, Northwest Scotland, Arkle's sire was an unsuccessful stallion on the racecourse and his dam an average two-miler. He won his first hurdle race in 1962, as a five year old and his trainer, Tom Dreaper, later remarked, 'he didn't stop winning for years'.

Arkle, ridden by Pat Taafe, won twenty-seven of his thirty-five races including the Irish Grand National in 1964, the King George VI Chase, 1965, and twice at the Leopardstown Chase and Hennesy Gold Cup, in 1964 and 1965. He never fell on the racecourse and was beaten only three
times over fences including his last ever race at Kempton, Boxing Day meeting 1966. Kempton was postponed. due to frost, to the following day and race-goers were shocked when Arkle came second in the King George VI chase. It was later discovered that he had broken a pedal bone during the race, and despite an operation, Arkle never raced again. He retired to the Duchess's farm at Bryanstown, Co. Kildare in 1968.

The collection has been consigned to auction by the Executors of the Estate of the late Anne, Duchess of Westminster, to benefit the charitable trust that the Duchess established many years ago. The sale of the collection of Arkle and racing memorabilia, together with approximately 500 lots, principally from her property, Eaton Lodge, Cheshire, will benefit the many charities she supported. These include charities associated with the communities in which she lived, assistance for disabled riders and for those whose livelihoods in racing have been curtailed by accident or other misfortune.

The collection will be sold as part of a two day auction to be staged in =the famous sculpture gallery, designed by Henry Holland, Property from Two Ducal Collections, Christie's at Woburn, Bedfordshire on 20 and 21 September 2004. The auction will also comprise a diverse selection of approximately 600 items, which have been stored in outbuildings for up to 60 years at Woburn. This sale is the latest project of the Private Collection and Country House Sales Team and is expected to fetch in excess of £1.5 million. The sale will be open to the public for viewing (admission by catalogue, call 020 7389 2820) from 17-19 September at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.

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