Otho was a bay colt foaled in 1760 by Moses out of Miss Vernon. He was bred and first owned by the Hon. Richard Vernon (1726-1800), a founder-member of the Jockey Club. Vernon bred and owned a very large number of racehorses, and made a small fortune by astute betting. Otho's racing career under Vernon during the years 1764-6 was moderately successful, and included winning a match for 300 guineas at Newmarket in October 1764 against Lord Bolingbroke's Turf, whose portrait by Stubbs of c.1765 is in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut. Otho's loss of a match against the Marquess of Rockingham's Bay Malton in 1766 is the subject of a painting by Francis Sartorius.
Vernon's stepson John Fitzpatrick, the Earl of Upper Ossory (1745-1818) purchased Otho early in 1767, the last and most successful year in Otho's racing career. He had several victories at Newmarket that year, and this painting was presumably commissioned to celebrate these. It is not known whether John Larkin, the jockey, rode Otho on each successful occasion, as Racing Calendars of this period do not record jockeys' names… (read more)