Friday, April 21, 2017

What well known authors wrote about Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla



Apart from being a progressive and sagacious ruler, Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla was a gracious host and one of the most famous racehorse owners of his time. Well known writers penned paeans about him which told many a tale about this multi-faceted personality.

Best-selling romantic novelist Barbara Cartland wrote in her classic memoir of the 1920s ‘We Danced All Night’ after the Maharaja had won the Irish Derby in 1926 when his horse Embargo took the honours:

“One very popular person at the Café de Paris and everywhere he went was the Maharajah of Rajpipla, who was always known as “Pip”. In England he was democratic, unassuming and increasingly merry, In India he was very much the dignified ruler over millions of his people who revered him.

Over here Pip won the Irish Derby and the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, and his Sunday afternoon parties at his house at Old Windsor were legendary.

In the East, Pip entertained in his enormous palace those who enjoyed big game hunting, like the Duke of Sutherland, polo players and anyone who wanted to gape at his state army, vast fleet of motor-cars and the royal ceremonial by which he was surrounded.”

The suave ruler’s friend Vivian Charles Buckley, authored ‘The Good Life: Between the Two World Wars with a Candid Camera’ and ‘Good times: At home and abroad between the wars’, besides his autobiography ‘Draw back the curtains’. He wrote an article entitled ‘Rajpipla At Home: Princely Hospitality of the Man Who Won the Derby’ in the Sunday Graphic and Sunday News six days after Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s colt Windsor Lad triumphed in the Epsom Derby of 1934:

"As a personal friend of the owner of Windsor Lad, the Derby winner, I can say none more deserved to win. He is the kindest, simplest and most hospitable person one could wish to meet.

Whether at Windsor, where he owns an old manor house and stays each year for the summer, or in his State in India with its 250,000 population over which he rules, or at his residence in Bombay, he always has a smiling welcome for his many friends.

When the Maharajah of Rajpipla says, 'Come out to India and stay with me,' he means it – not like many people who have a habit of issuing invitations which are not really meant. When I visited him in India it was characteristic that he should send a special railway carriage for my use, attached to the local train at the border station of Ankleshwar. It was magnificent looking, painted white and furnished as a sitting room, with a small kitchen adjoining in case the visitor should want anything to eat on the journey, although only a few hours to the picturesque capital town of Rajpipla.

An A.D.C. meets the train and escorts the visitor, in a car driven by one of the Palace chauffeurs in a smart uniform and turban, to the large white guest house. This is situated near the Palace and surrounded by tall palm trees. At night one can hear the call of wild beasts in the neighbouring jungle.

The Maharajah is always arranging things for the entertainment of his guests. Tiger shoots, tennis picnics, riding his polo ponies before breakfast, or viewing the up-to-date public buildings which are all painted grey - soft to the eyes in the brilliant sun. This kindly host is almost as fond of polo as racing, and every evening in India he either plays himself or watches a game from the terrace of his private gymkhana club with his relations, staff and guests. A military band plays by the side of the ground, and the sound of galloping hoofs may be heard till well after dusk - when the moon rises a golden crescent behind the goalposts."

This offered a delightful glimpse into the unforgettable era between the two world wars. Much changed thereafter, and indeed an entire lifestyle disappeared forever.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Enthralling description of the Epsom Derby 1934 in The New York Times. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’




Ferdinand Kuhn jr. wrote in The New York Times:

“Windsor Lad, the superb 3-year-old owned by the Maharajah of Rajpipla, won the English Derby by a length today after one of the most thrilling last-minute struggles in all the 151 years of racing on Epsom Downs. Lord Woolavington’s Easton finished second. He was ridden by Gordon Richards, England’s champion jockey, who narrowly missed gaining the first Derby triumph of his career. A neck behind Easton came Lord Glanely’s Colombo, the overwhelming favourite, who had failed only after an effort which left most hardened racegoers spellbound.

From a good start Medieval Knight was the first to show in front. At the mile post he was still in front but yielded the pace setting to Tiberius as the field sped downhill on the back stretch. At Tattenham Corner Tiberius was still in the van but jockey Smirke had moved Windsor Lad fast into second place.

Down the broad straightaway under the eyes of King George and perhaps half a million of his subjects these three had shot ahead out of a field of nineteen and until the last three had thundered along almost neck and neck. Close to the rails was Windsor Lad, his jockey crouching low and cracking the whip to urge the horse on. In the middle was Easton, with Richards straining every nerve to win. On the outside, nearest the packed grandstand, Colombo was making the fight of his life as if conscious of all the hundreds of thousands of pounds that had been staked on him. His jockey had lost his position against the rails rounding Tattenham Corner, but Colombo soon forged ahead from behind. To the astonished crowd it looked as if the favourite might snatch the victory away from Windsor Lad after all.

But fifty yards from home the strain was too much. Once they headed for the judges, the Maharajah’s colt quickly bounded for the front while Colombo swung wide. That move may have cost the race as Smirke took Windsor Lad the shortest way home. Colombo, who had never been beaten before, dropped behind while the purple and cream colours of the Maharajah flashed past in front.

Windsor Lad finished in 2 minutes 34 seconds, thus equalling the all-time record established by Hyperion last year. Sir Abe Bailey’s Tiberius finished fourth. All the rest were hopelessly beaten, including the only American-owned entry Bondsman, who struggled home in eleventh place.”

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

A Maharaja’s Turf
ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Published in India by Sporting Links
Fully Illustrated
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape)
140 Pages
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

Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Glasgow Bulletin on the exciting moments after Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla’s Windsor Lad won the Epsom Derby 1934. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’

Windsor Lad’s £1,000,000 bill for bookies

250,000 Crowd See Hot Derby Favourite Well Beaten


As soon as Windsor Lad had flashed past the winning post, his owner, the Maharajah of Rajpipla, went forward to greet him. The Maharajah is a regular visitor to English racecourses, and when the crowd recognised him they set up an ear-splitting cheer. He was obviously thrilled at this typical British greeting, and he beamed with pleasure as he doffed his grey top hat. The Aga Khan sprinted forward to congratulate him, and he was soon surrounded by a host of friends and acquaintances.

“Give me five minutes,” pleaded the Maharaja when interviewed by a reporter. “I can’t collect my thoughts.” And his actions were true to his words. His slightly grey hair was ruffled with excitement. He waved his hands as he expostulated, his features twitching in a nervous smile.

A polite message was then whispered in the ear of the joyful owner. “The King has sent for you,” he was told. The Maharaja turned in a daze, still carrying his hat in his hand, and walked away up the stairs. 

The Maharaja of Rajpipla rules a State of 1600 square miles in the Bombay Presidency. He spends a great deal of his time in this country, and resides at The Manor, Old Windsor in Berkshire, hence the name, Windsor Lad, for the best horse he has ever owned. His chief recreations are polo and racing.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

A Maharaja’s Turf
ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Published in India by Sporting Links
Fully Illustrated
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape)
140 Pages
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
Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Celebrities in Cameo. Feature on Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in The Bystander. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’

The Bystander, June 5, 1934


CELEBRITIES in CAMEO

The Maharaja of Rajpipla

THE MAHARAJA OF RAJPIPLA is the Peter Pan of the Ruling Princes of India. Aged forty, he is really ageless, though his youngest son (Indrajeet Singhji, father of author Indra Vikram Singh) is eight and his eldest (Rajendra Singhji, who later succeeded to the title of Maharaja) is about to get married. Known as “Pip”, he accentuates the nickname by having one of his racehorses known as “Mr. Pip”. “Pip’s” greatest ambition is to win the Derby, and to-morrow, if all goes well, this will be realised by Windsor Lad, which, as I write, is third favourite.

“Pip” has two selves - the one on the surface when in England, and the other when he is in his native State - an hour-and-a-half by air from Bombay. In England he is Bohemian, lighthearted, shy, merry, diffident. In his home he is responsible, extremely grand, very much a king, and tremendously respected. Indeed, he is a very good ruler, and his millions of subjects are prosperous, and proud of him.

He has an enormous palace, a mole on his cheek, a fleet of motor-cars, a lasting devotion to cameras, a vast guest-house, a passion for cigars, and a mansion on the river. When he arrives at the first or last named, an electric light shines on the roof. He personally supports his own State army. Polo matches take place every day from October to April when he is there. Guests are invited to take part in all kinds of big-game hunting, and the latest copy of the New Yorker is always on tap.

Yet it is England, where he is entitled to a salute of thirteen guns, which is his spiritual home. He goes to all the race meetings. He has the Manor House at Old Windsor. And at his Sunday-afternoon parties you never know whom you are going to meet - Maharajas, film magnates or Mollisons - they come and go incessantly, under the courteous eye of “Pinky”, his charming little A.D.C.

“Pip” is really a delightful person. He is an admirable host, thoughtful, kindly, and permanently youthful. In India he has one elephant - Raj Mangal. In England he has one object - hospitality. I hope very much that he leads in the winner to-morrow.

For two years he has headed the list of winning owners in India, and he has already won the Irish Derby and the Irish 2000 Guineas with Embargo.

England has known him annually for thirteen years from April to October, as a result of which he has become the most un-Oriental potentate of my acquaintance.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

A Maharaja’s Turf
ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Published in India by Sporting Links
Fully Illustrated
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape)
140 Pages
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
Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Daily Telegraph on Epsom Derby 1934 win of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla’s horse Windsor Lad. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’



The Daily Telegraph wrote on the Epsom Derby 1934 win of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla’s horse Windsor Lad:                                                                            

Windsor Lad equals Hyperion’s record in the Derby

The Maharaja of Rajpipla was naturally immensely elated. He is greatly liked by all his English friends, and this magnificent victory has come to him after about a dozen years of ownership on our Turf. I recall a victory on Epsom’s racecourse some years ago when Embargo won for him the City and Suburban. He was no more than a handicapper. Windsor Lad was bought by him as a yearling because he was a son of Blandford, whose stock were winning the big races. Blandford, indeed, has now sired three Derby winners – Trigo, Blenheim and Windsor Lad. It is a great performance for that sire, now, by the way, at the Whatcombe stud in England. 

Royal Congratulations

The Maharaja was speedily on the course, waiting to lead in his horse. One of the first to congratulate him was the Aga Khan. Many others cordially extended their felicitations. Very soon after the jockey had weighed in, the Maharaja was invited to proceed to the Royal box and there receive the congratulations of the King and Queen. He was truly delighted with the warmth of the reception on every hand, and will certainly never forget this wonderful day in his life.

The Maharaja of Rajpipla is entitled to be satisfied on the result that he has the best colt in the country. There is less conviction that Colombo was beaten on his merits. Meanwhile the owner of the winner can look forward to receiving some important cheques from bookmakers on Monday which splendidly garnish the stake and the honours of the race itself. A long time ago, the Maharaja made a bet, before he left India, of £4,000 to £400 and £1,000 to £100 a place. There were other wagers since at shorter prices. The total amount has doubtlessly been well liquidated by what a generous and delighted owner has already disbursed in presents, especially, of course, to those who were chiefly instrumental in bringing about the victory.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

A Maharaja’s Turf
ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Published in India by Sporting Links
Fully Illustrated
Hardcover 8.75 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches (landscape)
140 Pages
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
Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.