Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Indian cricketers from the Australian tour of 1947-48 felt about Don Bradman. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’


Amarnath, on his part, was unstinted in his praise for Bradman. He wrote in The Sportstar: “I am yet to see another Bradman. Probably none would in the times to come. When people make comparisons between Bradman and others, I laugh. Such was Bradman’s mastery that even Test cricket was One-day cricket for him. Has anyone made 300 in a day in a Test? So please don’t insult The Don by making silly comparisons. I know he never came to India but then it was good for our bowlers. On our pitches, where the ball does nothing, it would have been like going shopping for him and he would have batted day and night.”

Regarding the characteristics of Bradman’s batting, Amarnath observed: “Bradman’s eyesight was remarkable. He would spot the ball so easily, when batting or fielding. Bradman was essentially a back-foot player. And an absolute delight to watch. Among the shots he played, the pull obviously was the most outstanding. He could pull any ball from anywhere, even those going away on the off-stump. His square-cut came from the middle of the bat and the speed with which the ball travelled to the boundary was amazing. I remember in the first Test at Brisbane, he played a square-cut off (S.W.) Sohoni and the ball came back five yards after hitting the fence.”

Hazare referred to Bradman’s tendency to often run, or jog, back to the pavilion after being dismissed. In an article in The Week, Hazare stated: “Whenever he got out, he always used to run to the pavilion! He never questioned the umpire’s decision. Most of the time he started running to the pavilion even before the umpire’s finger went up. We didn’t find him getting angry on the field. He was a cool person. He didn’t want to waste energy on anger.” Bradman’s exit was quite in contrast to his entry towards the crease. Then he would walk in slowly, collecting his thoughts, taking in the atmosphere, getting used to the light. When his job was done he would depart hurriedly, getting away from the heat of battle to relax and rejuvenate in the dressing room.

Sarwate spoke more about the personal qualities of Bradman. He said in The Sportstar: “He was a great tactician, a great captain. But he was also a great sportsman, a perfect gentleman and a true ambassador for cricket. I have not seen many opponents appreciating a good stroke or a good ball. The Don always had nice words if you played a good shot or bowled a good ball to him. Signs of a good sportsman who appreciates a good act and it did not really matter to him if the player was on his side or the other.”

Sarwate also recalled in The Week, “Don was very confident but not arrogant and that was the way he behaved with us. He never tried to show that they were playing against a very inferior side.” All this may sound bizarre and outlandish in the modern age of sledging. True, this is a very different era, of cut-throat commercialism, but abuse on the field is certainly a bane of present-day cricket. If players find it difficult to be gentlemanly nowadays, they should at least refrain from being loutish, particularly in this electronic age when impressionable minds watching on live television are quick to imbibe crass behaviour as being an acceptable way of life.    

Equally effusive in his appreciation of The Don, C.S. Nayudu also told The Sportstar: “As a cricketer he had no match and he was simply a lovable character as a down-to-earth human being. I know people said he was aloof at times, but we all found him such an easily approachable man.” The verdict was unanimous. Bradman and the Indians got along very well.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

Don’s Century
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995

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-110001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Gohil Rajput dynasty of Rajpipla

Maharana Gambhirsinhji with his eldest son Yuvraj Chhatrasinhji, two younger sons and courtiers in 1875.
Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji.

A first-class princely state, the largest in the Rewa Kantha Agency, Rajpipla was founded around 1340 by Kumar Shri Samarsinhji Mokhdaji, younger son of Thakur Mokhdaji Ranoji 1309/1347 of Ghogha (later Bhavnagar) by the daughter of Rao Chokrana, a Parmar Rajput prince of Ujjain in Malwa. Chokrana died without a male heir, having adopted Samarsinhji. Thereby Samarsinhji succeded to the gadi of his maternal grandfather Chokrana Parmar at Junaraj (Old Rajpipla) Fort deep in the forests of the Satpura hills, and assumed the name Arjunsinhji. As a result, the rule of the principality of Rajpipla passed on to the Gohil Rajput clan, but they began worshipping the Kul Devi (family deity) of the Parmar clan, Shri Harsiddhi Mataji, the original temple being in Ujjain. It is said that Maharana Verisalji I of Rajpipla built the present temple of Harsiddhi Mataji at Nandod or new Rajpipla town, in the 18th century.

Rajpipla State was situated largely between two important rivers of western India, the Narmada and the Tapti, with the Satpura range in the south. Spanning an area of over 1500 square miles (about 4,000 square kilometres), of which 600 square miles (1550 square kilometres) were forests, with the rest fertile agricultural plains and river valleys, Rajpipla grew to be one of the most prosperous princely states in Gujarat, second only to Baroda. It was also famous for its agate mines. It is now part of the state of Gujarat. Its capital town of Rajpipla (Nandod or New Rajpipla) is now headquarters of Narmada district.

The origin of the Gohil Rajput dynasty of Rajpipla goes back to the sixth century A.D. when Muhideosur Gohadit or Guhil, born in 542 A.D. after the sack of Vallabhi and the only male survivor of the clan, went on to become chief of an area near modern Idar in Gujarat in the year 556 A.D, and held sway till his death in 603 A.D. His descendant Kalbhoj or Bappa Rawal seized Chittor and became ruler of Mewar in 734 A.D. A little more than two-and-a-half-centuries later in 973 A.D., Salivahan, the Gohil ruler of Mewar, and 11th in descent to Bappa Rawal, moved away with part of the clan from Chittor to Juna Khergarh (present-day Bhalotra near Jodhpur) on the River Luni in Marwar, leaving behind his son Shaktikumar with the remaining members of his kin. There is still a village there called 'Gohilon ki dhani' near Jodhpur. Thus for two-and-a-quarter centuries, both Mewar and Marwar were ruled by the Gohil Rajput clan.

Later, after Ala-ud-din Khilji ravaged Chittor in 1303, the Gohils of Mewar regrouped and assumed the name Sisodia. The capital was shifted from Chittor to Udaipur in 1559.

Meanwhile, the Gohils who had migrated under Salivahan continued to rule over Marwar. After the formation of the Delhi Sultanate in the early part of the thirteenth century, the Rathore clan, pushed out of Kannauj, migrated to Marwar. In turn the Gohil clan was displaced from Marwar. They marched back to Saurashtra where they became governors of the Chalukyas, and then carved out their own principalities. The most famous of their chiefs during this period were Sejakji, Ranoji and Mokhdaji, and the princely states that their descendants carved out were Bhavnagar, Rajpipla, Palitana, Lathi and Vallabhipur or Vala.

The rulers of Rajpipla had to face several invasions from the sultans of Ahmedabad, the Mughal emperors and later the Gaekwars, even losing their principality for brief periods, each time coming back to power by joining forces with the hill tribes (mostly Bhils) and carrying out guerrilla attacks. In 1730, with the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the 26th Gohil ruler of Rajpipla, Maharana Verisalji I stopped paying tribute to the Mughals, and his son Maharana Jeetsinhji wrested back Nandod taluka and shifted the capital to Nandod or new Rajpipla town, in the plains on the banks of River Karjan, a tributary of the Narmada.

The Gaekwars of Baroda exacted tribute from Rajpipla in the later 18th and early 19th century. The stranglehold of the Gaekwars was cast aside with the intervention of the British, and accession of the 33rd Gohil ruler Maharana Verisalji II on the gadi of Rajpipla. During the 1857 Mutiny, Rajpipla under Verisalji II rebelled, and for many months relieved itself of the sway of the British. The agitated English, having quelled the Mutiny and transferred power to the Crown, forced Verisalji II to step aside and make way for his son Gambhirsinhji in 1860 AD.

During the reign of Maharana Gambhirsinhji (1860/97), the road from Rajpipla to Ankleshwar was built, and Rajpipla State had its own postal system. Maharana Chhatrasinhji, the 35th Gohil ruler of Rajpipla, who came to the gadi in 1897 A.D., laid the 60-mile (90 kilometres) Ankleshwar-Rajpipla railway line and carried out massive famine relief during the period 1899-1902. He was one of the pioneers of motoring in India, owning cars like the Wolseley 6 hp 1903-04, Armstrong Siddeley 15 hp 1906 and Clement Bayard 16 hp.

Maharaja Vijaysinhji, who ascended the gadi in 1915 A.D., carried out massive reforms and infrastructure works. He established a high school where only nominal fees were charged, and introduced free primary education and scholarships. He built a civil hospital, maternity hospital, five dispensaries and a veterinary hospital in the State. A criminal-and-civil court was set up, pensions were paid to public servants, and the salaries of the police and military were increased. Maharaja Vijaysinhji ordered the laying of good motorable roads. He added the Jhagadia-Netrang section to the Rajpipla Railways. He also set up a 19-mile (31 kilometres) steam railroad and tramway connecting the towns along the river Narmada with villages in the interior, and a power house supplying electricity and water to Rajpipla town. Even though taxes were reduced in terms of percentage, the revenue of the State increased from Rupees 1,300,000 to Rupees 2,700,000 per annum in the period 1915-1930, and peaked at Rupees 3,600,000 in 1948 when the State merged with the Indian Union. Maharaja Vijaysinhji regularised the land revenue system, and carried out relief efforts during droughts and floods. He improved the quality of cotton, grains and fruits grown in his territory. His town planning as far back as 1927 was far-sighted, and builders were given permission to construct, conditional to leaving 3 to 4 feet (about 1 metre) space for future widening of roads. The designs of new buildings were well integrated and in harmony with the surroundings.

A keen horseman, Maharaja Vijaysinhji maintained one of the finest stables of race horses in India and England, marked by quality and not quantity. His thoroughbreds won several prestigious races, including the first Indian Derby in 1919 (Tipster), the Irish Derby in 1926 and Belgian Grand Prix in 1927 (Embargo), and the blue riband of the turf, the Epsom Derby of England in 1934 (Windsor Lad). Maharaja Vijaysinhji is still the only Indian owner to have bagged the English Derby, considered the greatest horse race in the world, cheered on by an estimated quarter to half a million people which included King George V and Queen Mary of Britain and other members of the royal family. Maharaja Vijaysinhji thereby completed a brilliant hat-trick of Derby wins: the first-ever Indian Derby, the Irish Derby and the coveted Epsom Derby of England, making him arguably the greatest-ever Indian racehorse owner.

Sports like cricket, football and hockey were made compulsory for students by Maharaja Vijaysinhji, who equipped Rajpipla with a polo ground and gymkhana club. A unique feature of the Rajpipla royal family was its polo team comprising Maharaja Vijaysinhji and his three sons Yuvraj Rajendra Singhji, Maharajkumar Pramod Singhji and Maharajkumar Indrajeet Singhji. Having a passion for cars like his father, Maharaja Vijaysinhji owned, among other top makes, twelve Rolls-Royce cars, from the Silver Ghost 1913 to the Phantom III 1937.

Maharaja Vijaysinhji laid out an airstrip in Rajpipla where aircraft landed in the 1930s and 1940s. During World War II, he donated three Spitfire fighter planes, named 'Rajpipla', 'Windsor Lad' and 'Embargo', and a Hawker Hurricane aircraft 'Rajpipla II'. He also had plans to build a dam across River Narmada to facilitate irrigation and generate electricity, precursor to the present-day gigantic Sardar Sarovar project, and was in the process of raising investment for it when merger of Rajpipla State with the Union of India took place in 1948.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Newspaper headlines after Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla’s horse Windsor Lad won the Epsom Derby of England in June 1934. Chapter 7 of Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’




The Star, Wednesday, June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD’S DERBY
Easton Second & The Favourite Third
A WOMAN’S PROPHESY
Maharaja’s Horse A Gallant Winner:
Colombo’s Fight To keep his Unbeaten Record


The Evening Standard, June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD’S DERBY


Nottingham Evening News, June 6, 1934
DERBY VICTORY FOR MAHARAJAH OF RAJPIPLA
Windsor Lad Wins in Great Race Home: Colombo Third


Leicester Evening Mail, June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD TRIUMPHS
IN THRILLING DERBY FINISH


Lincolnshire Echo. June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD EQUALS RECORD TIME
IN WINNING DERBY


Stafford Sentinel, June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD CARRIES OFF GREAT RACE.
KING AND QUEEN ACCORDED ENTHUSIASTIC WELCOME


New York Evening Journal, June 6, 1934
WINDSOR LAD WINS DERBY


Bombay Sentinel, June 7, 1934
Indian Owner Wins Epsom Derby
Maharaja of Rajpipla Wildly Cheered By British Sportsmen
Windsor Lad Outstays Easton and Colombo At The Finish


The Times, June 7, 1934
WINSOR LAD’S VICTORY
RECORD EQUALLED


The Daily Mirror, June 7, 1934
INDIAN PRINCE WINS THE DERBY
Windsor Lad Equals Record
COLOMBO WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH


Manchester Dispatch, June 7, 1934
JOCKEY’S PART IN
WINDSOR LAD’S DERBY TRIUMPH
C. SMIRKE RIDES A BRILLIANT RACE


Birmingham Gazette, 7 June, 1934
LORD GLANELY’S FAVOURITE FAILS TO STAY
POPULAR SUCCESS OF WINDSOR LAD:
GORDON RICHARDS SECOND ON EASTON


Liverpool Post, June 7, 1934
THE DERBY WON BY AN INDIAN PRINCE
WINDSOR LAD EQUALS RECORD TIME
COLOMBO BEATEN AT LAST
GREAT OVATION FOR SUCCESSFUL OWNER


Cardiff Western Mail, June 7, 1934
Colombo, hottest Derby favourite since the War, disappointed


Daily Herald, June 7, 1934
SMIRKE RIDES CLEVERLY TO WIN
ON WINDSOR LAD
“Good Old Pip,” The Crowd Yelled
Windsor Lad Surprises Them All
“UNBEATABLE” FAVOURITE COULDN’T CATCH UP


The Daily Mirror, June 7, 1934
THE KING AND QUEEN SEE
WINDSOR LAD’S VICTORY
THRILLING TUSSLE AT TATTENHAM CORNER
EASTON FINISHES IN FRONT OF COLOMBO
Winner’s Time Equals Last Year’s Record


The Daily Telegraph, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD EQUALS HYPERION’S RECORD IN THE DERBY
COLOMBO UNLUCKY AT VITAL STAGE OF RACE
Gordon Richards Second on Easton: Champion Jockey’s Great Day


The Sporting Life, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD
EQUALS DERBY RECORD
Charles Smirke Rides Brilliantly
to Gain First Classic Success
COLOMBO UNLUCKY IN RUNNING


Manchester Dispatch, June 7, 1934
THE DERBY WHEEL OF FORTUNE


Manchester Dispatch, June 7, 1934
Stamina Pulls Windsor Lad Through


Manchester Dispatch, June 7, 1934
Winner Equals Time Record
Indian Maharaja’s success


The Sporting Life, June 7, 1934
“HE WILL WIN!” SAID
THE OWNER OF WINDSOR LAD …


The Morning Post, June 7, 1934
The Riddle of the Derby
WAS COLOMBO UNLUCKY?
Brilliant Victory of Windsor Lad
THE KING AND QUEEN AT THE RACE


The Morning Post, June 7, 1934
A TRIUMPH OF TRAINING
By WATCHMAN


Sheffield Independent, June 7, 1934
THOUSANDS CHEER AS “GOOD OLD PIP” LEADS IN DERBY WINNER
Maharaja’s Joy – But ‘Bookies’ Pay £1,500,000


Continental Dispatch, June 7, 1934
A GREAT EPSOM DERBY FOR WOMEN
Why They Backed Windsor Lad
THE GYPSY’S WARNING OF A WINNING “W”


Sheffield Independent, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD WINS ON MERIT
BY “CORSAIR”


Liverpool Post, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD AN EASY FIRST
Merited Winner of the Derby
COLOMBO FAILS IN STAMINA TEST


Daily Sketch, June 7, 1934 
COLOMBO’S FATAL BREATHER
AFTER A MILE
GIMCRACK’S SUGGESTION


The Times, June 7, 1934
THE KING AND QUEEN AT THE DERBY
RACEGOERS’ FASHIONS


Glasgow Bulletin, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD’S £1,000,000 BILL FOR BOOKIES
250,000 Crowd See Hot Derby Favourite Well Beaten


The Sporting Life, June 7, 1934
Classic Lines in Windsor Lad’s Pedigree
STAMINA INHERITED FROM BRIDGE OF EARN
AND CARBINE
BY ITHURIEL


Nottingham Guardian, June 7, 1934
DERBY PROPHESY OF 1868 FULFILLED
CROWD CHEER “GOOD OLD PIP”
AFTER WINDSOR LAD’S WIN
BOOKMAKERS HARD HIT


News Chronicle, June 7, 1934
Windsor Lad Wins a Great Derby
A HAPPY “COMEBACK” FOR C. SMIRKE
By CAPTAIN HEATH


Daily Express, June 7, 1934
HOW COLOMBO LOST THE DERBY:
 ‘Unbeatable’ Horse Checked By ‘The Knight’s’ Failure 
TATTENHAM CORNER TANGLE
SMIRKE’S WIN AFTER 5-YEAR BAN
WINDSOR LAD “LIKE A MACHINE”


Yorkshire Post, June 7, 1934
WHAT THE JOCKEYS HAD TO SAY
C. Smirke Describes His First “Classic” Win


Daily Mail, June 7, 1934
THE FAVOURITE’S FAILURE


The New York Times, June 7, 1934
WINDSOR LAD TAKES DERBY BY A LENGTH
15-2 Shot Equals Record in Historic Race at Epsom by Beating Easton.
King and Queen of the Royal Family Among 5,00,000 Who View the Spectacle.
By FERDINAND KUHN JR.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.


The Times of India, June 8, 1934
MAHARAJA OF RAJPIPLA WINS
BLUE RIBAND OF THE TURF
WINDSOR LAD’S GREAT RACE
FAVOURITE FAILS TO STAY
Thousands Cheer “Good Old Pip”: Owner Congratulated by King
WINNER ACHIEVES NEWMARKET-DERBY DOUBLE


The Daily Telegraph, June 8, 1934
DERBY WINNER & COLOMBO
A £4,000 TO £100 BET
By HOTSPUR


The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, June 8, 1934
What’s in a Number?


Windsor Express, June 8, 1934
WINDSOR LAD


Windsor Express, June 8, 1934
WINDSOR LAD WINS THE DERBY


Western Gazette, June 8, 1934
THE DERBY
THE FAVOURITE FAILS TO STAY
GIPSY’S PROPHESY FULFILLED


Greenoce Tele, June 9, 1934
The New-Style Derby


The Field, June 9, 1934
THE MAHARAJA OF RAJPIPLA’S DERBY
How Windsor Lad and Easton Beat the Favourite


Chester Guardian, June 9, 1934
REFLECTIONS ON THE DERBY
TRIUMPH OF WINDSOR LAD
BAD FOR THE BOOKIES
By THE VETERAN


Horse & Hound, June 9, 1934
The Derby and Things


Observer, June 10, 1934
COLOMBO’S DEFEAT
WAS THE JOCKEY TO BLAME?


Sunday Sportsman, June 10, 1934
THE DERBY


Sunday Dispatch, June 10, 1934
WHY COLOMBO FAILED AND HOW
By KEYSTONE


Sunday Dispatch, June 10, 1934
WHY I BACKED THE DERBY WINNER
By Lady Oxford


Sunday Chronicle, June 10, 1934
This Derby
“W” Plan

REYNOLD’S ILLUSTRATED NEWS, June 10, 1934 


Dublin Daily Mail, June 12, 1934
THE DERBY


Truth, June 13, 1934
COULD COLOMBO HAVE WON?


(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.

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.