London: Planet News Ltd., 13 July 1957. Photograph. This is an original press photograph of Sir Winston S. Churchill on 13 July 1957 at Sandown Park where his horse was to run. This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. The image measures 10 x 8.125 in (25.4 x 20.6 cm) on glossy photo paper. Condition is very good minus. The paper is crisp and clean with some minor edge wear, a small loss to the lower right corner which is confined to the margin, and light overall scuffing visible only under raking light. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Planet News Ltd.”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph from July 1957, and a typed caption. The original caption is titled “NO WIN FOR WINSTON.” And reads: “SANDOWN PARK: Elder Statesman SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL looks thoughtful as he watches his horse “Holiday Time” being saddled for the Star Stakes at Sandown Park today. It was unplaced. 13th July, 1957”.
Owning racehorses was a later life manifestation of Churchill’s lifelong love of horses. At Sandhurst, training for the cavalry, Churchill graduated second in the arduous riding competition. At Omdurman he participated in “the last significant cavalry charge in British history”. He was a talented polo player who did not play his last game until age 52. And as soon as his finances allowed in the last decades of his life, Churchill kept a stable of racehorses and found some success as an owner and breeder.
In 1949 the septuagenarian Churchill purchased Colonist II, a three-year-old French race horse. Colonist became something of a sensation, winning eight of his nine races in 1950, including one in which King George VI’s horse was running. Churchill’s new hobby was not met with approval by all. Clementine wrote to a friend “I do think this is a queer new facet in Winston’s variegated life… I must say I don’t find it madly amusing.” (letter of 28 May 1951) When Colonist’s trainer suggested that Colonist be put up to stud Churchill allegedly retorted, “To stud? And have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is living on the immoral earnings of a horse?” (quoted in Kay Halle, The Irrepressible Churchill, p. 241) Churchill continued to own horses throughout the remainder of his life, 36 in total, but none quite matched the success of his first.
This original press photograph was taken in the twilight of Churchill’s remarkable life and career. More than two years earlier, on 5 April 1955, Churchill had resigned his second and final premiership at age 80. During the last decade of his long life, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served. The day after Churchill died, on 25 January 1965, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen herself, other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005418