Pas Seul was the easy winner of the Gold Cup at Sandown in 1961 while carrying a weight of 175lb. At the age of five, after a couple of unpromising races when he fell, Pas Seul won six successive times over fences and hurdles, despite some "horrifying mistakes." Entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1959, he was leading the race until the last fence, where he fell in the path of Linwell, who was making his run for home; the Irish Roddy Owen won that race. The following season Pas Seul started off poorly, losing all of his races prior to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but won it in a spectacular run for home after the last fence, where his speed and staying power put him ahead of the game Lochroe. Through mistakes in his subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup run in 1961, he came in second to the brilliantly-ridden Saffron Tartan; he did, however, win the Whitbread Gold Cup that year, giving 21 lb. to Nicolaus Silver, that year's Grand National winner. In 1962, coming off an infection, he was eased to fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup race, and later that season broke down, age 9, and was rested from racing for over a year. He was brought back in 1964, winning a race at Kempton, but placed a sad third to the new jumping stars Arkle and Mill House in that year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Nicolaus Silver was bred in Ireland but bought for £2,600 by Charles Vaughan and trained by Fred Rimell in England. Ridden by Bobby Beasley, he had enduring fame by winning the Grand National in early April 1961. In the depicted race in this work, he finished in 2nd place.
Mandarin, also depicted in this work, finished in 5th place, but went on in the following year to become one of the iconic horses of his day. On a June day in 1962 at Auteuil, his jockey Fred Winter wrote a page of steeplechasing history. As racing journalist Sean Magee eloquently states:
Sheer heroism from horse and jockey. Mandarin's bit broke early in the race, leaving Fred Winter with no brakes or steering around Auteuil's dizzying four-mile figure-of-eight circuit, but a combination of leg-power and willpower kept the partnership intact. Three fences out the exhausted Mandarin broke down in one of his forelegs, but he kept slogging on, taking the lead 100 yards out only to have the French horse Lumino launch a late challenge and grab Mandarin at the line. Verdict: Mandarin by a head. John Oaksey wrote: 'I have never seen a comparable feat, never expect to - and can only thank God I was there.'
Mandarin went on to win the Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase and the Hennessy.