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Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath

March 2018 by Dr Georgina Downey

Few race horses have been as masterfully painted in their winning moment as ‘Gimcrack’. Here, Stubbs paints this fabled grandson of the Godolphin Arabian in front of a Newmarket ‘rubbing house’, or race-day stable, flanks heaving, veins popping, sweat drenched, held by his trainer, with a stable boy putting down straw for him to urinate on. 

On the right, we see him again, about 10 minutes earlier, dashing past the winner’s post in front of the stadium and winning the race by lengths. 

Stubbs hints the righthand side of the picture with its altered time zone (the race) is a dream, a vision or memory, because the shutters to the grandstand (the strangely boxy brick structure behind the white fence in the background) are closed and the spectators are gone.