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 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

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