Irish Derby 1926 win on first attempt by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla. His horse Embargo beat a field of ten

Irish Derby 1926

Wednesday 23rd June
Winner: £4350, 10 Ran, 1 mile 4 furlongs (12 furlongs)

Irish Derby [Plate £5250] (£5/£20+£45)

HH Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla leading his horse Embargo after winning the Irish Derby in 1926.

HH Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla leading his horse Embargo after winning the Irish Derby in 1926.

It was Embargo, owned by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, that won the Irish Derby at the Curragh in 1926. Celebrating 150 years of the Irish Derby 1866-2015, the official website states, “The negative effects of the Betting Tax and Entertainment Tax on the Irish racing scene in 1926 resulted in a diminished home-trained opposition to no fewer than six English raiders, headed by Embargo, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas and subsequently second in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot. Ridden by Steve Donoghue, Embargo justified favouritism with a half length to spare over Silver Lark. His success meant that HH the Maharajah of Rajpipla had won the Irish Derby at his first attempt, a feat he was to emulate when Windsor Lad won the 1934 Derby. Having gone on to prove himself in the highest class, Embargo was purchased by JJ Parkinson and stood at his First Flier Stud close by the Curragh, proving himself as a dual-purpose sire.”

The Result

1  Maharajah of Rajpipla EMBARGO (Jockey: Stephen Donoghue) 9. 5 4/5f (Trainer: Charles Bartholomew GB) (Owner’s colours: Purple, white sash, black cap) Br.c. Argosy – Elland (Marco) (Shrewton, Wilts)

Time: 2 minutes 41 1/5 seconds.

Winner bred in Ireland: W.F. Power ½ length, same.

2  Mrs C.L. (Isobel) Mackean SILVER LARK (Thomas Burns) 8.12 100/8 Col Arthur J. Blake (Leander pink, silver cap) Br.c. Silvern – Laverock (My Prince) (Maryborough)

3  Mrs T. Carthew BULGER (Charles Smirke) 9. 2 3/1 Stanley Wootton GB (Black, apple green crossbelts & cap) Br.c. Bridge of Earn – Black Gem (Black Jester) (Epsom)

4  Daniel Sullivan RESPLENDENT (John Moylan) 8.12 100/8 Henry S. Persse GB (Saxe blue, white belt, qrtd cap) B.f By George! – Sunbridge (Bridge of Earn) (Stockbridge)

5  William Barnett WHITE ORB (E.Martin Quirke) 9. 2 100/8 John T. Rogers (Cherry, black sash & spots on cap) Ch.c. White Eagle – Mercy (Orby) (Crotanstown House)

6  David Frame WATERKOSCIE (James Dines) 8.12 10/1 James Killalee GB (Green, tartan sash, qrtd cap) Br.c. Kosciusko – Waterproof (Watershed) (Epsom)

7  A. Hood GLEN ALBYN (George Archibald) 8.12 100/6 M. Dobson Peacock GB (Purple, yellow & black stripes, yellow slvs & cap) (Middleham, Yorks) B.c.Bridge of Earn–Alarmed (Santoi)

8  Alfred B. Coyle GERAINT (Joseph Canty) 8.12 100/1 Edward Fordred (Rose & black quartered) B.c. Roi Herode – Simon Tit (Simon Square) (Brownstown House)

9  Glanely, 1st Baron TENACITY (Joseph Thwaites) 8.12 20/1 Frederick C. Archer GB [William J. Tatem](Black, red, white & blue belt & cap) (Newmarket) B.c. Gay Crusader – Decagone (Martagon)

10  William A. Wallis LORD WEMBLEY (Mornington Wing) 8.12 50/1 John Staunton (Violet, red cap) Br.c. Tredennis – Captive Princess (Captivation) (Osborne Lodge)

These are all the facts, but there are a few interesting snippets. The jockey of the third-placed Bulger was Charlie Smirke who was to ride the Maharaja of Rajpipla’s horse Windsor Lad to the historic Epsom Derby triumph eight years later. Smirke was just 20 years old in 1926, and two years later his licence was suspended for five years. He felt it was unfair, and when he was back in the saddle in October 1933, the indignant Smirke had a point to prove. Maharaja Vijaysinhji chose him to ride Windsor Lad in the 1934 Derby, and the rest is history.

Significantly, the shrewd Indian ruler did not engage Embargo’s Irish Derby 1926 winning jockey Steve Donoghue to ride Windsor Lad at Epsom in 1934. Donoghue instead rode the early leader Mediaeval Knight who faded at the top of the hill at Epsom.

It was Windsor Lad’s dam Resplendent who came in fourth in the Irish Derby 1926. Resplendent was bred in Ireland by Daniel Sullivan, as was Windsor Lad.

Ninth-placed Tenacity was owned by Lord Glanely whose unbeaten colt Colombo was the hot favourite in the Epsom Derby 1934. Windsor Lad beat him to third place.

Some of these stories contribute to the legend of HH Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, one of India’s greatest racehorse owners.

2 thoughts on “Irish Derby 1926 win on first attempt by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla. His horse Embargo beat a field of ten

  1. Bhaisaheb read this before but the enjoyment is enhanced with every reading. Few things stand out, didn’t know this. The prize money must’ve been a princely sum in those days. 2. All didn’t run at level weights in those days? Embargo at 9.5 was topweight?? 3. Only 6 runners! Unheard of in today’s times 🙂
    Wonderful extract. Enjoyed 🙂

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