An attempt is made to poison Sir John's horse. Voluptuary. Frustrated, the villain has Belford arrested so he cannot ride. Who will take his place? Captain Vernon! Seeing the man he (mistakenly) thinks has ruined his daughter mounted on his horse, Sir John flies into a speechless rage, which is just as well, as the lines in The Prodigal Daughter were pretty bad. However, it was too late to do anything about it: a dozen thoroughbreds were on the stage. All the familiar sights of a race were included—"the weighing-in scene, the preliminary canter, the trial jump, the clearing of the course.... Then the roar of hoarse voices, 'They're off!' waving of hats and the excited gestures of an almost maddened crowd."
The horses dashed across the scene and vanished into the depths of the Drury Lane stage as they went into the country at Aintree. Sir Augustus even furnished a little comic relief while they rounded the backdrops. "The scenes of the stables are animated enough," said The Era, "but the excitement gets to fever heat with the wondrous pictures of the Aintree course, the water jump, the winning post and the grandstand, with the big and motley crowd of men and women, bookies, backers, welshers, telegraph boys, stable boys, loungers, loafers, racing swells, tricksters, cards-of-the-race sellers, with roughs, riffraffs and respectability curiously comingled and policemen on foot and on horseback endeavoring to get order out of the general disorder."
Around came the horses again. Voluptuary was first over a hurdle in the distance and then cleared Becher's Brook. "Never was such a scene witnessed in the theatre," said The Stage. "A scene the like of which the stage has never known before," said The Era. The Theatre made some caustic observations on the plot (which Sir Augustus tied up in an anticlimactic fourth act) but added that nobody noticed these lapses because Voluptuary "romped away with all the honors, whether on the racecourse or in the evening...he is more important than anyone—it is through his exertions that The Prodigal Daughter is saved."
It might have been added that Voluptuary also saved the Drury Lane. The play ran for a year and was taken off only because Sir Augustus had discovered the popularity of sports melodramas and wanted to produce more of them. His next show featured Heavyweight Champion James Corbett in Gentleman Jack. The size of the stage did not make much difference in this case, for the entire third act consisted of a prizefight, with no more dialogue than is ordinarily heard between two fighters in a ring. Then Harris produced The Derby Winner, another spectacular piece of stagecraft in which 16 thoroughbreds crossed the Drury Lane stage, and later shows of the same type were The Sporting Duchess and Sporting Life, with casts of hundreds and many horses. As The Era observed, "The public have not had too much of the drama of sport." Voluptuary was 14 years old when he made his last appearance in The Prodigal Daughter, and in the hundreds of times he raced over the Drury Lane stage he never missed a performance, never missed a cue and never missed a chance to take a curtain call.