Flying Childers was bred by Colonel Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall, Doncaster, foaled in 1715 by the Darley Arabian (imported from Aleppo, circa 1704) out of Betty Leedes. He was sold as a yearling to William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, in whose livery three of the figures in the present picture are shown. In the two seasons 1737 and 1738 he was a top-class performer for the Duke, winning several races at Newmarket. After an exceptional racing career, he retired to stud at Chatsworth. The prefix 'Flying' was a soubriquet added later as his racing performances grew into legend that was unchallenged prior to the appearance of Eclipse, some forty years later.
As such a celebrated champion, Flying Childers was painted by several early 18th century British Sporting artists including John Wootton, James Seymour and Thomas Stringer, and his portrait adorns the walls of several major collections of Sporting Art, such as The Paul Mellon Collection. The present lot was painted more contemporaneously than most, just three years after Flying Childers stopped racing in 1722. The popularity of these paintings led to a variety of contemporary engravings, including Houston's 1755 engraving of Seymour's portrait under which the caption ran: Childers, the Fleetest Horse that ever ran at Newmarket.