The Goodwood Cup of 1856 by C.F Hancock and H.H Armstead.
The Goodwood Cup of 1856 is an exquisite example of Victorian silversmithing and equestrian history. The cup was produced in 1856 by the illustrious firm C. F. Hancock of London and designed by H. H. Armstead - a talented and versatile sculptor of many celebrated works.
Following the form of a shallow ‘Tazza’ and principally worked in solid sterling silver, this standing cup and cover depicts a scene from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem, The Faerie Queene. At an impressive 33 inches tall, the cup’s crowning glory is the sculpted representation of Spenser’s champion, Prince Arthur, as he heroically overthrows the Giant Orgolio. The design brief issued by the prize committee was simply to provide a piece to the value of 300 Guineas for presentation to the winner of the Goodwood Cup - a value which it clearly exceeded, even then.
The Goodwood Cup itself, the middle race of the Stayer’s Triple, is an unusual and complex flat racing course inaugurated at Goodwood in 1812. Home of Panama hats and light linen suits, this meeting continues to be the social highlight of the horse racing calendar. Less ostentatious than other racing events and set within the picturesque West Sussex countryside, “Glorious Goodwood” (as it is now known) was started in 1802 by the Third Duke of Richmond for officers of the Sussex Militia. It was here that Armstead’s singular cup was won by the now-legendary jockey, George Fordham.
Fordham, nicknamed the ‘The Demon’ for his cunning use of tactics, was a jockey of exceptional ability rivalled only by Fred Archer, the most successful jockey of the time. Both skilful and resolute, Fordham won many prestigious races during his career and was the outright Champion Jockey of flat racing in Great Britain thirteen times.
Taking the reins of Mr. Henry Hill’s thoroughbred “Rogerthorpe”, Fordham’s race in 1856 was his second of a formidable five wins of The Goodwood Cup. With this winning verdict, the cup was presented to Sir Samuel Martin, one of the Barons to the Court of the Exchequer, and has remained in private ownership by descent ever since.
Pieces as worthy as this, and with a provenance seldom to come to auction, have consistently achieved high hammer results. It is therefore with a great sense of anticipation that Fellows participates in the elaborate narrative of this special item.