Epsom Derby 1934 – the lucky number 13 of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla

23Apart from the forecast of Gipsy Lee, there was another mystical saga around the Epsom Derby 1934 – the lucky number 13 of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla. There were so many coincidences around the number 13 relating to this 1934 classic.

To begin with, the Maharaja was entitled to a 13-gun salute. Windsor Lad was bought for ₤1300 on July 13. The Maharaja sailed in cabin no. 13 in the ship that brought him to England, and this was the 13th Derby that he was attending.

Windsor Lad was listed no. 13 in the race card. And when the draw for the race was made, Windsor Lad was slated to stand 13th at the start! It was for this uncanny recurrence of the number 13 that the ladies backed Windsor Lad.

As if this was not enough, the clairvoyant Gene Dennis predicted that Jack Petersen would win the big boxing bout with Len Harvey on Monday, and Windsor Lad would claim the Derby on Wednesday.

Colombo might have been a ‘dead-cert’ for the experts and the bookmakers, but Windsor Lad was the definite favourite as far as the oracles were concerned. The media made no bones about all the augury either.

The Star: “THIS is the prophetic year for the Derby. Years ago Gipsy Lee prophesied that no horse with a “W” in its name would win the Derby between 1868 – Blue Gown’s year – and the year after her death. She died last year. Since then, to this day, no horse with a W in its name has ever won. Two nights ago Miss Gene Dennis, the seer, made the double prophesy that Petersen would win the big fight with Harvey and that Windsor Lad would win today’s race. Both prophesies were fulfilled.”

Daily Mail: “Believers in the mysterious powers of the number 13 will, no doubt, have their say in this matter of Colombo’s defeat. They will attribute it to the fact that on Tuesday night he was placed in Box 13 at Epsom, as last year there were people who explained the withdrawal of Rodosto – another favourite – on the eve of the race by the fact that he was put in Box 13 at Tattenham. Yet it remains true that Windsor Lad, this year’s winner, was 13th horse in the draw for places. Why should what was lucky for Windsor Lad bring misfortune to Colombo?”

Horse & Hound: “I may mention the alleged prophesy of Gipsy Lee, who predicted that no horse with the letter “w” in its name would win between Blue Gown’s year (1868) and a year after her death, which took place in 1933. I say “alleged” in a formal sort of spirit; I do not necessarily doubt that the prophesy was made, but I have no direct evidence of it. The story is that in 1868 a noble lord asked Gipsy Lee who would win, and she wrote “Blew Gown”. After the race his lordship gave her a sovereign and told her to learn to spell; whereupon (it is related) she was furious, and banned the letter “w” as stated. It doesn’t seem very reasonable, I’m afraid, but that’s the story. H.H. the Maharaja of Rajpipla rules a first-class State in the Bombay Presidency of about 1600 square miles. He plays polo, I believe, and while we are talking of prophesies, superstitions and such things, I might mention that he is entitled to a salute of thirteen guns, and Windsor Lad was drawn No. 13. What about that?”

The Evening Standard:

THE GIPSY’S WARNING

And now the superstition.

First. – Windsor Lad was No. 13 in the draw.

Second. – There was the prophesy made years ago by Gipsy Lee.

Gipsy Lee foretold that between 1868, when Blue Gown won the Derby, and the year after her death no horse with a W in its name would ever win this race. No horse with a name including W ever did during this period, although there were horses such as Orwell and William IV, which should have been certainties on form. Gipsy Lee died last year. Her prophetic ban on horses spelt with a W is now lifted. This year’s winner was Windsor Lad.

Bombay Sentinel: Indian owner wins Epsom Derby. Maharaja of Rajpipla wildly cheered by British sportsmen

“W” PROPHESY

Windsor Lad’s victory recalls the prophesy of the famous Gipsy Lee who died last year, who said that no horse with a ‘W’ in its name would win a race in her lifetime. She was right, since Blue Gown in 1868, Windsor Lad is the first horse with ‘W’ to win.

The Daily Mirror: Indian prince wins the Derby

Thus for the first time since 1868, when Blue Gown was victor, a horse with “W” in the name has won the Derby. So the prophesy of Gipsy Lee that no horse with “W” in its name would win until the year after her death has been fulfilled.

 “The favourite’s beaten!”

“The gipsy was right!”

These two cries echoed from a thousand throats among the multitudes on Epsom Downs to-day after a thrilling finish.

Hannen Swaffer in Daily Herald: Smirke rides cleverly to win on Windsor Lad. “Good Old Pip,” The Crowd Yelled. Windsor Lad Surprises Them All. “Unbeatable” favourite couldn’t catch up

Well, some people were pleased. Gene Dennis, the “Woman of Mystery”, said at the London Palladium, when asked, “Will Colombo win the Derby?” that he would not, but the owner of the winner would have a very long name. Afterwards she decided it was Windsor Lad. So thousands followed her “psychic tip”. Indeed, an hour after the race, remembering that I had published her prophesy, I got a telegram, “Many, many thanks to you, Gene Dennis and Windsor Lad. Herald Reader”. Many more backed Windsor Lad because of Gipsy Lee’s prophesy that, from1868, when Blue Gown won, no horse with a “W” in his name would win the Derby until the year after her death. She died last year. Then England was buzzing with stories that the race would be won by “someone from the East”. Well, it was not the Aga Khan.

Hotspur in The Daily Telegraph: Windsor Lad equals Hyperion’s record in the Derby

For the superstitious there is the fact that Windsor Lad was thirteenth in the draw, to say nothing of that prophesy of Gipsy LEE about horses with a “W” in their names which, if it ever was made, has proved true.

Meyrick Good  in The Sporting Life: Windsor Lad equals Derby record

“An Eastern Derby”

LORD ZETLAND was a wise prophet when, at the Press Club luncheon on Monday, he predicted that it would be an “Eastern Derby”. Lord Lonsdale told me after the Guineas that he did not think that Lord Glanely’s colt would act well at Epsom. He was right.

Continental Dispatch: A great Epsom Derby for women. Why They Backed Windsor Lad. The Gypsy’s warning of a winning “W”

Never had a Derby winner been so enshrouded in superstition as Windsor Lad. The gypsies tipped it – Mrs. Boswell (Gypsy Lee), who died last year, said that a horse with a “W” in its name would win this year’s Derby. Windsor Lad was the thirteenth runner in the race card list of Derby horses and – more remarkably still – when the numbers for the draw went up Windsor Lad was number 13 again! No wonder women backed it. They simply flocked to put their money on.  Just because of these good omens. A young woman too, Miss Beryl Higgs, took a big part in the training of Windsor Lad. As it happened Colombo was in No. 13 box during his stay at Epsom, but 13 for him was evidently not a lucky number.

Nottingham Guardian: Derby prophesy of 1868 fulfilled. Crowd cheer “Good old Pip” after Windsor Lad’s win. Bookmakers hard hit.

The success of Windsor Lad recalls the prophesy of the famous palmist, Gipsy Lee, that no horse with the letter “W” in its name would win the Derby until the year after her death. She died in April of last year. The last horse with a “W” in its name to win the Derby was Blue Gown as far back as 1868. The story – or at least one version of it – goes that Gipsy Lee was at Epsom in 1868 when a peer, in passing, asked her what would win the Derby. She was wearing a blue dress at the time and said, “Look at my frock,” The peer said, “Write it down,” and she wrote “Blew Gown”. After Blue Gown had won, the peer threw a pound to her, advising her to learn to spell. In a rage Gipsy Lee threw the pound back, saying, “You will not live to see another Derby, neither will a horse with a “W” in its name win the Derby until after I am dead.”

The Times of India: Maharaja of Rajpipla wins blue riband of the turf. Windsor Lad’s great race. Thousands Cheer “Good Old Pip”: Owner Congratulated by King. Winner achieves Newmarket-Derby double

This year’s tip chalked up over the old Amato Wishing Well was Umidwar. The victory of Windsor Lad recalls the prophesy the famous Gypsy Lee made. She openly stated that no horse’s name with a W in it would win the Derby during her lifetime. She died last April and Windsor Lad was the first horse that contained a W to win this race since Blue Gown in 1868.

The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News: What’s in a Number?

I can add some more Thirteens for the benefit of those superstitious people who pointed out that the Derby winner drew No. 13 in the race. Windsor Lad was purchased two years ago on July 13. The purchase price was 1300 guineas. Yesterday’s race was the thirteenth consecutive Derby that the Maharaja of Rajpipla had attended. I do not know if the Maharaja intends to start a Thirteen Club in India, but he has never had any doubts about his lucky number. His full title is Captain H.H. Maharana Shri Sir Vijaysinhji, K.C.S.I. Today, he feels as big as his name.

Western Gazette: The Derby. The favourite fails to stay. Gipsy’s prophesy fulfilled

Thus for the first time since 1868, when Blue Gown was victor, a horse with “W” in its name has won the Derby. So the prophesy of Gipsy Lee that no horse with “W” in its name would win until the year after her death has been fulfilled.

Sunday ChronicleThis Derby. “W” Plan

LAST stage of greatest sporting week of the year began on Friday, “Ladies Day” at Epsom and Test Day at Nottingham. Earlier a Derby time record equalled and a boxing champion deposed.

Windsor Lad, with the previously unbeaten Colombo a length and a neck behind, won the Derby in the presence of the King and the Queen on Wednesday in the same time as Hyperion’s “best”, 2 min. 34 sec., set up last year. In doing so, he justified a celebrated “occult’ tip and made Gipsy Lee the most famous turf prophet in the world. In 1868 the Derby was won by Blue Gown. Gipsy Lee prophesied that no other horse with a name which included a “w” would be successful until a year after her death. She died last year! Jocular Lord Glanely (owner of Colombo) and other backers of the favourite agree that the stars were against them. Well placed approaching Tattenham Corner, Colombo was baulked when Medieval Knight suddenly “faded” and his jockey (W.R. Johnstone) had to go very wide entering the straight.

Pullman’s Weekly News: The favourite fails to stay. Gipsy’s prophesy fulfilled

Thus for the first time since 1868, when Blue Gown was victor, a horse with “W” in its name has won the Derby. So the prophesy of Gipsy Lee that no horse with “W” in its name would win until the year after her death has been fulfilled.

(These are excepts from my book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’).

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