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Wednesday, May 3rd, at Pontefract Racecourse, Yorkshire, Great British Racing unveiled a piece of artwork to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III.

Created by local artist James Owen Thomas, the artwork that is made from recycled materials, pays tribute to the royal family’s longstanding connection and love for the sport of horseracing.

Great British Racing commissioned Thomas, who is an environmental artist based in Harrogate, to create the mosaic-style piece using recycled materials from horseracing such as racing silks, racecards, tickets, newspapers and racing photos. The celebratory collage includes details including the names of all 59 racecourses in Great Britain and centres around the purple and red royal silks that are widely recognised within racing and outside of the sport.

The large-scale artwork has been displayed for racegoers at Pontefract Racecourse today and will move to Thirsk racecourse to be displayed on Saturday 6th May for the Coronation. See images from the unveiling event here.

In 2019 Thomas created a piece of art for Pontefract Racecourse as part of sustainability campaign. Richard Hammill, Chief Operating Officer of Pontefract Racecourse said: “We are delighted to work alongside Great British Racing and welcome James Owen Thomas and his family back to Pontefract to unveil his incredible piece of artwork for the occasion of King Charles III’s Coronation.”

Hammill continued: “Pontefract Racecourse were honoured to work with James on a sustainability campaign in 2019 and we have the fantastic art that he created for us on display at every race meeting. We are thrilled that James chose Pontefract as the venue to launch his new piece and we continue to follow his blossoming career with a huge amount of pride and interest.”

Thomas was diagnosed with autism at the age of three years old and pictures, colours and art have always played an important part in his life as a means of communication and expression. His work can be found on his website. 

On making the art Thomas said: “It’s such an honour and a privilege to be chosen to create a new piece of art to celebrate the Coronation.  I am pleased to be using recycled materials for this artwork, which is also in keeping with the King’s great interest in protecting the environment.”

Thomas continued: “I enjoyed colour sorting all the items sent to me by Great British Racing, and as I would be working largely in purple, red and gold, I knew exactly which materials to work from.  Amongst other things, I used torn pieces from race day magazines, tickets, and even old racing silks, which are ideal to cut up.  Large pieces of text cut from old leaflets form an abstract background. One very important feature that was added to the collage is a sparkling Coronation Crown.”

Horseracing has an enduring relationship with the royal family which stems back hundreds of years. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had an enormous interest in the sport and a well-known love for thoroughbred.

His Majesty the King has many racehorses in training, with the below horses running over the Coronation weekend. Sustainability is a huge passion for His Majesty and he is alleged to have been tracking his carbon footprint since as early as 2007.

His Majesty the King’s runners over the Coronation weekend:

  • Friday 5th May: Circle Of Fire at Newmarket Racecourse – 1.15pm, Newmarket Stakes
  • Saturday 6th May: Candle Of Hope at Goodwood Racecourse1.55pm William Hill Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes
  • Saturday 6th May: Saga at Newmarket Racecourse – 3.25pm, Newmarket Suffolk Stakes
  • Saturday 6th May: Barrier at Salisbury Racecourse – 5.05pm, Kingsclere Owners British EBF Maiden Stakes