DERBY PROPHESY OF 1868 FULFILLED
CROWD CHEER “GOOD OLD PIP”
AFTER WINDSOR LAD’S WIN
BOOKMAKERS HARD HIT
“GOOD OLD PIP!” roared a thousand voices as the Maharajah of Rajpipla, winner of the Derby with Windsor Lad, entered the paddock at Epsom after the race yesterday.
The Maharajah was obviously delighted with the nickname. Time after time he waved his grey “topper” in acknowledgement.
He was almost out of breath when a reporter managed to get him on one side for a moment. “I told the British public it was a good horse,” said the Maharajah. “The British public have given me a tremendous welcome. It has taken my breath away. I feel I want five minutes to collect my thoughts. I think it is a fine thing for the Empire to come here and win the Derby from a distant part of it. That is a splendid thing for Britain. I am specially glad of that.”
The Maharajah went to the Royal box and was warmly congratulated by the King and Queen and other members of the Royal party.
The King and Queen, her Majesty in a long coat of pale dove grey cloth with a toque to match, had driven to the course from Buckingham Palace by car, and other cars had brought the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince George and the Princess Royal, and Lord Harewood. The Duchess of York was in blue with a white fox collar, and the Princess Royal in a green costume with a broad brimmed hat of the same colour.
Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught were also present, as were Prince and Princess Christian of Hesse, with their daughter, the dark-haired 18-year-old Princess Augusta, who was seeing the Derby for the first time.
The Royal party were received by the stewards, Lord Lonsdale, Lord Rosebery, and the Marquis of Crewe. They immediately walked to the Royal apartments in the grandstand, where lunch had been prepared for them.
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.”
FALL OF A CHAMPION
Yesterday’s race brought about the first defeat of Lord Glanely’s champion, Colombo. The favourite, concerning whose temperament so much has been written and said, was a perfect model of exemplary behaviour at all stages of the proceedings at the paddock, on parade and at the post – while his fine action was displayed during the canter past the stands.
He had everything in his favour, therefore, and his defeat can only be fairly attributed to lack of the necessary stamina. He was well placed throughout and as he came with his run there were shouts of “Colombo wins” but as the post was neared it became apparent that he was about to meet his Waterloo.
Windsor Lad put in a remarkably fast gallop and his time of 2 mins. 34 secs. Equals the record of the race set up by Hyperion last year. His victory provided Charles Smirke, his rider, with his first success in a “classic”, The nearest he had ever been before was when he finished third on Black Watch in Felstrad’s Derby. The Maharajah of Rajpipla rules a State of 1,600 square miles in the Bombay Presidency. He spends a great deal of his time in this country, and resides at The Manor, Old Windsor, Berkshire, hence the name “Windsor Lad”, for the best horse he has ever owned. He made no secret of the fact that he expected his horse to win. Windsor Lad was bred in Ireland, and the Maharajah displayed considerable judgement when he purchased him as a yearling for 1,300 guineas at the Newmarket July Sales.
The winning trainer, Mr. Marcus Marsh, is a younger son of the late Mr. Richard Marsh, who for many years was trainer to King George V and King Edward VII. One of the first to congratulate him yesterday was Colombo’s trainer, Captain Hogg.
It is estimated that considerably over £1,000,000 will have to be paid to backers of Windsor Lad. Six big London bookmakers alone will have to pay something like £200,000. “It is the worst result possible,” said the representative of a West End firm, “for next to Colombo, Windsor Lad had been the most heavily supported horse throughout the wagering, and, being at longer odds, he has hit us hard.”
TOTALISATOR DOES WELL
The totalisator took £26,814 4s. on the race, this being just short of last year’s total of £26,950 12s., which stands as a record for any individual race in this country. The total amount taken by the tote yesterday was £53,089 12s., this being £3,566 more than was taken on Derby Day last year.
The Derby, which had started in sunshine, ended with a flash of lightning over the downs, but the rain ceased as the crowds began their homeward trek. Perhaps the jolliest party was composed of the employees of the Maharajah of Rajpipla from his Windsor house. They had gone to see the Derby as his guests and had all backed Windsor Lad.
The King gave his usual Derby Day dinner at Buckingham Palace last night to members of the Jockey Club. About fifty guests, all men, attended. The Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince George and the Earl of Harewood were among members of the Royal Family present.
The Queen, who in former years had dined at a friend’s house on Derby night, went to the Queen’s Theatre with the Earl of Athlone and Princess Alice Countess of Athlone to see “Old Folks at Home”.
The Maharajah of Rajpipla, who gave a party at a London hotel last night, said to a reporter: “I am proud to have won the Derby with Windsor Lad, but I am prouder still that I should have won this great race before such a sporting public. Windsor Lad is a great horse and I hope he will add still further to the stable’s triumph this summer, for he will run in the Eclipse Stakes and the St. Leger, all being well. Don’t forget that he had a great little jockey riding him in C. Smirke,” he added.
Smirke and his wife were guests at the Maharajah’s table at the party.
(The story of the Epsom Derby 1934 has been recounted in the book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ by Prince Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla.)
A Maharaja’s Turf
Published in India by Sporting Links
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape)
MRP Rupees 1995
Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7
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