Munnings first sampled the excitement and drama of race meetings early in his career, around 1904, and they became a recurring subject in his work. In 1915 he exhibited The Start at the Royal Academy, a composition which depicted the disorderly line up at St Buryan Races in Cornwall.
After the Second World War, Munnings painted a series of pictures of The Start at Newmarket, his favourite racecourse, where he was given special permission by the Clerk to position his car at the post. From this vantage point, he executed a number of rapid plein air studies of horses and jockeys under starter's orders. The sense of anticipated movement and drama, with the bright colours of the jockeys' silks, are brilliantly captured in these works. Munnings returned tirelessly to the subject and commented: 'each start is a fresh picture for me, as they have been, meeting after meeting, year after year' (see A.J. Munnings, The Finish, Bungay, 1952, p. 207).