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ApassagetoIndia; LETTERS.

HORSERACING in India probably dates back to around double the 100 years suggested in Horse Play (August 5).

The exportation of thoroughbreds from England began in earnest in the second decade of the 19th century, the departure of about 50 animals for the subcontinent being recorded in volume two (published 1822) of the General Stud Book, among them Reginald, the 1821 2,000 Guineas winner and Derby second. The ownership of a few was ascribed to the East India Company.

During the 1820s, reports of racing in India began to appear in the Sporting Magazine, chiefly relating to Arab contests. Fresh ground was broken when the December 1828 issue carried a portrait of the Indian-bred Anglo-Arab mare Beggar Girl (foaled 1819), with her performances. They included victory in the 1822 Great Riddlesworth Stakes at Calcutta, named after the valuable produce race at Newmarket.

Beggar Girl was by the exported Vagrant (Trumpator-Gipsy), owned originally by Sir John Shelley and bred in 1808. She was bred and owned by Col Walter Raleigh Gilbert, of Allipoor, near Calcutta.

Gilbert, a subscriber to the GSB and Racing Calendar, was described as "the Bunbury of the East" in an 1829 article in the magazine, when reported to be back in England after spending 26 years in India.

An animal who made the reverse trip to Vagrant and company was Bouchamel, a greyhound who was beaten in the first round of a coursing stake at the Sutherland Meeting, near Dornoch, in November 1840.

Thacker's Courser's Annual commented: "Bouchamel is a dog sent from India to His Grace the Duke of Sutherland; he is an extraordinary looking animal, and attracted much notice from the lively and bold manner of his running, but he evidently wants the speed of the British greyhound."

P Saward Witham, Essex
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Aug 12, 2012
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