Bribery was a chestnut filly foaled in 1851 by The Libel out of Splitvote by St. Luke. She was bred and raced by Earl Bruce, son of the 1st Marquess of Ailesbury, in 1853 and 1854. The first good racehorse he ever owned, she was nonetheless better as a broodmare. Before she died in 1879, aged 28, she had produced the good St. Leger winner St. Alban. From her daughters Boundary and Petition her family has been influential all over the world and still exists.
Bribery began her career as a two-year-old, running second at Newmarket and Epsom before winning a minor race at Royal Ascot and another at Winchester where she also had a walk over. At three she improved further and began by being third in the Oaks. Another minor Royal Ascot win followed and a defeat by Meteora, who had been second in the Oaks. On 30 June 1854 she won two races at Winchester ridden by her usual jockey, Flatman, in one. After this she had her biggest win in the Goodwood Stakes and was unplaced in the Chesterfield Cup. Her career ended at Brighton where she was second in the Brighton Stakes and won the Grand Stand Stakes ridden by Flatman.
Lord Bruce used his famliy silks of scarlet with yellow sleeves and a black cap to race from the early 1840s, but it was as an owner of Bribery that he was elected by the Jockey Club in 1855, the year of this painting. Herring has carefully depicted the scarlet at the jockey's neck, and the yellow cuffs of the sleeves. The jockey is Nat Flatman who at that point was nearing the end of his great career. He had last been champion in 1852. The trainer is Alec Taylor Senior as quite a young man.