The Latin inscription reads:
Ludorum Ascotiensium Memor Quibus Ipse Interfuisset Reginae Victoriae Hospes Mens Jun MDCCCXLIV Solenne Certaminis Equestris Praemium Instituit Nicolaus Totius Russiae Imperator (Nicholas, Emperor of All the Russias, established a prize for an equestrian contest, remembering Ascot races, at which he himself had been present as a guest of Queen Victoria in June 1844)
The English inscription reads:
WON BY THE HERO 1847
The Ascot Gold Cup is Britain's most prestigious race for horses racing over long distances, traditionally held on Ladies' Day. The event, founded in 1807, was known as the Emperor's Plate for a nine-year period after Emperor Nicholas I attended the Ascot Races in 1844 as a guest of Queen Victoria. The Emperor enjoyed the races so much that he gave the astonishing sum of 500 sovereigns for a piece of plate to be awarded each year as the Gold Cup, Ascot's principal prize, renamed the Emperor's Plate in his honor. The series of nine silver prizes paid for by the Emperor from 1845 to 1853 comprise some of the most spectacular and imaginative race prizes ever commissioned.
Emperor Nicholas's generous patronage apparently gave carte blanche to the two leading Victorian silver firms, Hunt and Roskell, and Robert Garrard. These silversmiths engaged the greatest sculptors of the day to create the designs and models for the nine Emperor's prizes. Sculptors Edward Hodges Baily and Edmund Cotterill each designed four of the trophies, and Antoine Vechte designed the final cup in 1853. With the outbreak of the Crimean War, Nicholas withdrew his patronage, and the prize was reinstated as the Gold Cup, as it is known today.
Early in his career, sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) worked as a modeller and carver in the studio of the celebrated artist John Flaxman. In 1815 Baily joined the workshops of Royal Goldsmiths Rundell's as a designer and sculptor. After 1833, he joined Paul Storr and stayed on in Storr's successor firms, which became Hunt and Roskell in 1843. In addition to designing major works in silver such as the present vase, Baily is well known as the sculptor of several famous monuments in London, including the figure of Nelson on the column in Trafalgar Square, exterior ornament on Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch, and numerous sculptures in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
CAPTION: The Emperor's Plate of 1847, displayed in front of the Steward's Stand, Ascot Races, Illustrated London News, June 5, 1847
CAPTION: "The Ascot Prize Plate," Illustrated London News, June 5, 1847