Excerpts from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ ….. 10 – The Sporting Life on the Epsom Derby 1934 triumph of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla


The Sporting Life, Thursday, June 7, 1934 



by Augur (Capt. R.C. LONG)

The Maharaja of Rajpipla publicly stated that his colt, Windsor Lad, would defeat Colombo and win the Derby. This he did in unimpeachable style at Epsom yesterday, and the open-hearted manner in which the stable supported the colt’s prospects render the victory all the more popular.

To Marcus Marsh, son of the late Richard Marsh, one-time trainer to late King Edward and to King George, are tendered hearty congratulations. He placed complete confidence in Windsor Lad since he won the Chester Vase a month ago. It is a remarkable achievement by a comparatively young trainer.

Particularly pleasing is, too, that C. Smirke should, on returning to the saddle this season, secure the distinction, coveted by all jockeys, of riding the Derby winner.

Best of Field Who Deserved Success

I stated in my notes overnight that the best horse wins the Blue Riband nine times out of ten. No doubt there are some bad-luck stories to tell. Nevertheless the fact remains that Windsor Lad was the best colt in the field, thoroughly deserving success. The fear that the son of Blandford – a wonderful sire this – might lack sufficient speed to hold a good position proved groundless.

Though led by Medieval Knight, Colombo, Fleetfoot and Tiberius, Smirke always had Windsor Lad in a handy place, and stamina proved a deciding factor in the closing stages of a remarkable race.

When Tiberius wrested the lead from Fleetfoot and Medieval Knight descending the hill to Tattenham Corner, hopes for a Manton victory ran high. He was beaten, however, shortly after entering the straight.

It was here that Smirke somewhat daringly shot Windsor Lad through on the inside, to take the lead from Easton, Fleetfoot and Colombo. From that point onwards it became a question whether Colombo would make sufficient ground to defeat Windsor Lad and Easton.

For a few strides at the distance Colombo flattered, but he faltered, and Windsor Lad was left to register a meritorious victory amid tumultuous cheering. Windsor Lad, in fact, won with more in hand than the bare verdict of a length suggests. After he passed the winning post Smirke could be seen looking over his shoulder at Gordon Richards, as much as to say, “What do you think of that?”

The surprise of the race was the forward display of the rank outsider, Fleetfoot. No real excuse can be advanced for any of the vanquished, with the possible exception of Colombo, who appeared to meet with some interference when Medieval Knight fell back approaching Tattenham Corner. Since the favourite held a nice position up to that point he can be said to have made his own bad luck. Apart from this, I am convinced that he could have won had not his stamina given out at the distance.

The King graciously commanded the Maharaja of Rajpipla’s attendance to receive congratulations, which were extended on all sides.

The Maharaja of Rajpipla apparently had an Oriental hunch that his horse would win the English Derby. The victory was a very popular one in Windsor, where the Maharaja has his country residence. He made no secret of his confidence in Windsor Lad, and his employees at Old Windsor went to Epsom by Windsorish coach as their master’s guests and witnessed the race from a good stand at Tattenham Corner. Needless to say, their cheers were among the loudest when the Maharaja’s colours were seen to be first past the post. The newspaper boys shouting out the result in Windsor caused great amusement by calling, “The local lad’s done it.”

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

A Maharaja's Turf cover (front )

  • Hardcover: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Sporting Links (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8190166832
  • ISBN-13: 978-8190166836
  • Package Dimensions: 28.6 x 22.4 x 1.8 cm

Available on http://www.amazon.in


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