Alfred Wheeler (1852-1932) Oil on Panel of the Brilliant Racehorse Pretty Polly. Signed and Dated 1906 with Jockey Danny Maher up and Trained by R Gilpin and Owner Major Eustace Loder.
Alfred Wheeler was born near Bath in Somerset to John Alfred Wheeler (1821-1877), who retired early from the Army to pursue a successful painting career. Alfred is thought to have studied under his father and to have worked closely with him. He married Catherine Muspratt in 1874 and moved next door to his father at Raglan Villas, Bath. Alfred then followed his father when he moved to Hanwell. Alfred and Catherine had six children of whom Walter Herbert and John Frederick became artists. The Wheeler family specialised in sporting subjects such as horseracing and foxhunting. They also painted animal portraits.
There is often confusion between Alfred Wheeler and his father because their style is so similar and they both signed J. A. Wheeler or A. Wheeler senior. They even painted some of the same racehorses and both received commissions from Baron Rothschild and the Prince of Wales. Alfred's work is thought to be less prolific. However, Alfred did contribute to many of his father's paintings toward the end of his life. Generally, Alfred's pictures tend to have more of a photographic quality about them than those of his father.
Pretty Polly (March 1901 – 17 August 1931) was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare. One of the greatest fillies ever to race in Britain, she won fifteen consecutive races and was only the fifth horse to win the British Fillies Triple Crown since its inception in 1814. Pretty Polly also became one of the greatest broodmares of the century.
Pretty Polly was bred and owned by Major Eustace Loder and trained by Peter Gilpin, she won nine races from nine starts as a two-year-old in 1903.
The following year, Pretty Polly won the 1,000 Guineas as 1-4 favourite, winning easily by three lengths in record time. Other wins as a three-year-old were The Oaks, the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, the St. Leger Stakes (completing the Fillies' Triple Crown) and the Park Hill Stakes with jockey William Lane. Pretty Polly stayed in training as a four and five-year-old, winning six more races, including the Coronation Cup in 1905 and 1906. In total, Pretty Polly won 22 of her 24 races, placing second twice, in Paris in 1904 and in the 1906 Ascot Gold Cup.
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