WHAT EXPERTS ON RACING AND PRINCELY INDIA, AND THE MEDIA, SAY ABOUT ‘A MAHARAJA’S TURF’
“A most enjoyable and interesting book, which tells the story of the huge success in European racing of the Maharaja of Rajpipla at a time when he, and several other Indian princes, ranked high on the owners lists.” …..Lester Piggott, OBE, one of the greatest jockeys ever, with 4,493 career wins including nine Epsom Derby victories.
“Intriguing, most interesting, it brought back lots of memories.” …..Sir Peter O’Sullevan, often described as ‘the voice of racing’, ‘the most famous commentator of the 20th century’ and ‘the true voice of the sport’.
“The volume brings together an impressive range of primary material on the life and racing interests of Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla. Anyone interested in the culture of princely India in the 20th century will find the book a fascinating read and a rich source of information.” …..Dr Amin Jaffer, International Director Asian Art, Christie’s, London.
“This is a wonderful record of a unique era.” …..Brough Scott, UK Sportswriter of the Year 2010.
“Indra Vikram Singh has told an important story well” ……Tim Cox, highly-acclaimed historian of the thoroughbred breed, owner of an extensive library.
“This book is for those who love sports, and fancy learning about the lives and ways of royalty. The Maharaja of Rajpipla had a passion for horses and sports like horse racing and polo. “Like his collection of Rolls-Royce cars and priceless properties, a part of Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s fortune was in the stables that housed some of the finest horses one would ever find anywhere.” He went on to own the Irish colt, Windsor Lad – so named as the Maharaja’s home in Britain was in Windsor – that won him the English Derby. What is singular is that the Maharaja won the first-ever Indian Derby (1919), the Irish Derby (1926) and the English Derby (1934), a unique hat-trick.” …..New Indian Express.
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SYNOPSIS OF ‘A MAHARAJA’S TURF’
by Indra Vikram Singh
Collector’s edition on the triumph of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji
of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby of England in 1934
Published in India by Sporting Links
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 cm x 0.6 inches (landscape)
The Book : This is the story of the exhilarating victory of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby of England in 1934, the only Indian owner to win the blue riband of the turf in its history dating back to 1780. The dapper Indian prince’s horse Windsor Lad left the hitherto undefeated favourite Colombo trailing in third place in the presence of royalty led by King George V and Queen Mary, and a multitude of an estimated quarter to half a million people on that damp afternoon of 6th June. The triumph earned the Maharaja a unique hat-trick of Derby victories as he had already clinched the first Indian Derby at Calcutta in 1919 with his horse Tipster, and the Irish Derby at Curragh in 1926 with Embargo.
The enthralling tale recounted by the Maharaja’s grandson Indra Vikram Singh offers an insider’s insight, and is embellished with rare media photographs of the race and from the Rajpipla royal family collection over many generations. It has been extensively researched from about 80 newspapers and magazines of 1934, five books and websites, and carries articles by the Maharaja himself. There are news reports, cartoons and caricatures which open out a whole new world. Featured are the British royal family, the Aga Khan, Maharaja Man Singh II of Jaipur and the leading racehorses, owners, trainers and jockeys of the day, among other eminent personalities.
The book captures the era between the two World Wars, of imperial times and a royal lifestyle, also going back centuries into history, connecting the past and the present and depicting the march of time, even as the thrilling race remains the central theme. It unfolds the tale of the uncanny prophesy of Gipsy Lee, the several coincidences around the number 13, the defeat of a ‘super-horse’, and the unrelenting quest of a prince to realise his dream that is bound to keep the reader transfixed.
The Author : Prince of the erstwhile royal house of Rajpipla, now in the province of Gujarat, India, and descendant of the ancient Gohil Rajput dynasty, Indra Vikram Singh is a writer, author, editor, publisher and entrepreneur. He is author of ‘Test Cricket – End of the Road?’ (Rupa & Co., 1992); ‘World Cup Cricket’ (Rupa & Co., 2002); ‘The Little Big Book of World Cup Cricket’ (edition I, Sporting Links, 2007); ‘The Little Big Book of World Cup Cricket’, edition II (ISBN 978-81-731422-0-8, Media Eight, 2011); ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ (ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6, Sporting Links, 2011) on the triumph of his grandfather Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby of England in 1934; ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket’ (ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3, Collector’s edition, Sporting Links, 2011); ‘Don’s Century’ (ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Sporting Links, 2011) which is a biography of Don Bradman and a panorama of batting from the 1860s to the present times; and ‘Crowning Glory’ (ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7, Sporting Links, 2011), a special supplement on India’s win in the ICC World Cup 2011.
The author Prince Indra Vikram Singh of Rajpipla can be contacted on email email@example.com. His blogs http://www.singhiv.wordpress.com and http://www.indravikramsingh.blogspot.com offer an insight into his work, his family and heritage.
Chapter 1 : Chasing a dream : 1
Chapter 2 : Thoroughbred with great potential : 4
Chapter 3 : Captivating prelude : 7
Chapter 4 : Day of glory : 16
Chapter 5 : “Good old Pip” : 41
Chapter 6 : A time to celebrate : 47
Chapter 7 : Media carnival : 51
Chapter 8 : Windsor: gallant and endearing : 62
Chapter 9 : Marcus Marsh: chip off the old block : 66
Chapter 10 : Charlie Smirke: dashing rider with a point to prove : 70
Chapter 11 : An uncanny forecast….. and the lucky number 13 : 78
Chapter 12 : Was ‘super horse’ Colombo unlucky? : 83
Chapter 13 : Experts and bookmakers bite the dust : 97
Chapter 14 : Poignant moments : 100
Chapter 15 : ‘I didn’t think I would win the Derby – I knew’ : 102
Chapter 16 : “My Three Derbys” : 105
Chapter 17 : A life blessed : 109
Chapter 18 : The family’s cherished memories : 115
Chapter 19 : Special postal cover to commemorate the platinum jubilee of the Derby triumph : 120
Chapter 20 : Rajpipla State post : 121
Chapter 21 : The Gohil Rajput clan : 128
Epilogue : 130
Bibliography : 132
Colour photo feature / Royal family of Rajpipla in modern times : 133