Spirit of Cheltenham

by Brett Lohn

The inspiration behind this 24 by 48 inch oil painting was a desire to recreate the unique atmosphere of racing at Cheltenham Racecourse: the home of jump racing.


Composed over the third fence from home on Cheltenham’s New Course, Brett says of this piece, "I wanted to produce a painting that explores why the public are so loyal to this great racecourse and why jump racing has such a devoted following. For me Cheltenham is about the competition and the athleticism of horses in an environment unrivalled for its landscape. This is what draws the crowds and this is what I have sought to paint.


“During an actual race the spectator’s focus is obviously on the horses; however one cannot help but be aware of the surrounding landscape at the same time. The atmosphere of Cheltenham is inextricably linked to its environment. Whilst I have made the horses the subject of the painting, I have tried to give Cleeve Hill that same dominance over the viewer’s subconscious that one experiences in the flesh when attending a meeting at Cheltenham.


“By omitting advertising hoardings, support vehicles and ground staff from this painting, I have sought to portray Cheltenham, and jump racing, in their purest and most undiluted form. 


“This painting is not one moment from a specific race, captured and immortalised. A camera can record that. ‘Spirit of Cheltenham’ is a living, breathing representation of the reason behind the racecourse’s enduring appeal. The result of the race in question has not been decided, nor can it be predicted. The horses are grouped in such a manner that, with three fences remaining, there are still a myriad of possibilities as to who will win. No spectator knows which horse is the favourite in this race.


“This painting is an embodiment of the appeal of Cheltenham Racecourse, the spirit of jump racing. As such it is my hope that it will remain every bit as relevant to racegoers in two hundred years time as it is today”.


Brett’s philosophy when painting is that he wants to produce a window into a living, breathing world. There is nothing static, everything can be felt: from the excitement of the horses racing, to the temperature of the late January air. That is why it was so important, throughout the full year spent on the painting, for him to be able to work from life, bringing his easel repeatedly to the centre of the course.


The Artist concludes, “My thanks go to Edward Gillespie and his staff for being so helpful in the creation of this piece of art. It is my hope that, as a result, I have produced a painting that would make a stunning window in any room”.


If you want to hear more of the artist’s thoughts about this painting, watch his interview on video now.