The English Rothschilds began to own and compete race horses from the late 1830s. The sons of the founder of the London bank, Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) were keen riders with hounds, having been encouraged by their mother to take up an active pastime to compensate for the hours spent indoors at the bank. The move from hunting to racing was a natural one, demonstrating the family's social pretensions as at this time the pre-eminent race-horse owner in England was the Prince of Wales.
It was the youngest of Nathan's sons, Mayer Amschel (1818-1874), who became an avid racing enthusiast. In 1843 he registered the Rothschild racing colours of dark blue and yellow, and began to train his horses under John Scott at Russley Park in Berkshire. Mayer also began to breed horses, establishing a stud farm at Crafton, near his country estate of Mentmore. Considerable success followed.
This cartoon of Mayer Amschel de Rothschild (1818-1874) was one of a series of cartoons of Statesmen published in Vanity Fair magazine. The accompanying text describes Mayer as 'the sporting member of the great house. He has entered into the business of the turf with all the energy of his family'. The text applauds his honesty and reliability and congratulates him on his winning the Derby this year.