Cotherstone, a bay colt, was the 1843 Dual Classic Winner, ridden by William Scott. Got by Touchstone, out of Emma, Cotherstone was bred by his owner, John Bowes of Streatlam Castle, County Durham, in 1840. Touchstone was one of the most influential sires of the 19th Century, a leading sire four times, whose sons - Orlando and Newminster - grandsons - Lord Clifden, Adventurer and Hermit - and their male line descendants came in their turn to dominate the English sire lists in the latter half of the 19th Century and beyond. Emma won three of her four races as a two-year-old and ran second in several stakes races at three. She was retired to Streatlam Stud where she bred a succession of top horses including Derby winners Mundig and Mowerina, the dam of the first Triple Crown winner, West Australian.
As a two-year-old, in 1842, Cotherstone heated in the Nursery States at Newmarket. The following year, 1843, was Cotherstone's annus mirabilis. After winning the Riddlesworth Stakes, the Column Stakes and the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, he went on to win the Derby. He then won the Gatwick Stakes at Goodwood and the Royal Stakes at Newmarket. He only lost the St. Leger by a head. At the end of that year Cotherstone was bought by the 3rd Earl Spencer for 3,000 guineas. In the following season the horse broke down at Goodwood and never raced again.
The initial 'B' on the rug in the foreground confirms that the picture was painted for John Bowes while he still owned Cotherstone. It may well have been executed as a second version for John Bowes to keep when he sold the horse and a larger version of the painting to Lord Spencer.
Henry Hill, of Queen's Gate Terrace, London, owned a significant collection of portraits of celebrated horses by Herring, including some of his own horses painted in 1851.