A familiar face on the English racecourses for over a dozen years already, extremely popular with the racing crowds and well-liked by friends and acquaintances alike, the ever-smiling and amiable Maharaja, generous to a fault, drew rousing cheers from the multitude estimated to be anywhere between a quarter and a half million that exhilarating afternoon on the Epsom Downs.
As soon as the dapper prince, in his tail-coat and top-hat, stepped on to the course after Windsor Lad had blazed past the finishing post, the spectators were on their feet, calling out “Good old Pip” over and over again. It was a memorable ovation that only a few Indians like the immortal cricketer Prince Ranjitsinhji would have ever experienced in England. Countless people stepped forward to congratulate him, among the first being his good friend the Aga Khan.
The media flocked to Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, to photograph and film him and get quotes and reactions for the morning papers. By the time he led his gallant colt to the unsaddling enclosure, there was a great melee around him. Just then a gentle word was whispered in his ear that the King wanted to see him.
People recalled those moments, “In the unsaddling enclosure the smiling Indian simply got ‘lost’ under his emotions. It took him some time to realise that General Tomkinson (manager of the King’s stable) was calling him to go to receive the congratulations of the King and the Royal Family. The words were not heard for a moment or two. This Indian ruler has given the lead which can well be emulated by others. He took the public into his confidence from the earliest moment by his open declarations of confidence in Windsor Lad’s chance.”
Up above to the royal box did the victorious ruler ascend to receive the felicitations of King George V and Queen Mary and all the members of the royal family present. The King raised a toast to this brilliant triumph, crowning an unforgettable day in the life of Maharaja Vijaysinhji.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh is grandson of Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, and can be contacted on email email@example.com).
A Maharaja’s Turf
Published in India by Sporting Links
Hardcover with jacket 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape) 140 Pages