William, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam (d. 1833) was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1795. He married twice, firstly Lady Charlotte Ponsonby (d.1822), second daughter of the Earl of Bessborough, in 1770, and secondly Louisa (d.1824), widow of 1st Baron Ponsonby and daughter of 3rd Viscount Molesworth, in 1823. His mother was Lady Anne Watson-Wentworth, daughter of Thomas, 1st Marquess of Rockingham. Lord Fitzwilliam was the nephew of Charles, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, owner of the winning horse.
H H Fane is probably Henry Hopkins Fane Esq., of Whitby and Howsham who married Catherine Chomley in 1774. He later assumed the name of Chomley and left on his death in 1809 five daughters and an only son, George Chomley Esq.
The Doncaster Cup is the oldest true race which has been held continually since its inception. The course in 1778 was run on 23rd September over four miles with a field of only three horses. Sir Harry Harpur's Pilot started as favourite at 3.1 on, with Phocion at 5.1. In fact Pilot came third, behind Fortune second, and Phocion first. Phocion, a bay colt, was by Sampson, out of Emma by the Godolphin Arabian and was foaled in 1770. He had a long career and raced until 10 years old when known as 'Old Phocion'
The design for the cup has strong similarities with the work of Robert Adam, especially a drawing prepared by Adam for Sir Nathaniel Curzon at Kedleston Hall (see M. Snodin., op. cit., 1997, p. 19) where the basic vase-form with spool-shaped cover is embellished with roundels hung from swags. In this instance the rim has an 'antique' style plaque of running horses and the lower part of the body is chased with flutes rather than acanthus foliage.