Sultan was a chesnut colt foaled in 1852 by Crescent out of Madame Vestius. He was bred in Ireland where he won a race as a two-year old in 1854, owned by Lord Conyngham. The following year, he had won four races by 16 May, including his Majesty's' Plate and the Curraghmore Handicap. Lord Conyngham then sold him to Lord Anglesey and he was transported to England, where he had a rather ignominious start, he ran last in the Goodwood Stakes and was then unplaced in the Cesarewitch (although strongly fancied). However he finished the season with a victory in the Cambridgeshire in 23 October 1885 in which he carried 7 st. 6Ibs. and won by a length from Mary. In England he was always ridden by James Goater who wore the Anglesey colours of yellow and purple.