Photos: Niyogi Books
Text: Lean Deas
The photos represented here are from the book Horse Racing in India: A Royal Legacy by Lynn Deas. In India’s early history, horses were an important part of daily life: they served as draught animals, as a means of transport, and in the defence services. It was only in the latter part of the 18th century that army officers set off to race horses against each other for a private wager. Evidence suggests that racing first began in Madras and subsequently spread to the east.
The second half of the 19th century saw racing evolve from being a mere pastime and friendly competition to a sport with great potential for development. With the support of the early Englishmen as well as Indian princes and maharajas, racing in India achieved glorious heights. Today, the sport is more commercialised and is increasingly viewed as a “rich man’s sport”. There are numerous theories on what the future of Indian racing holds; many agree that there is a need to lessen taxation and attract younger people to the sport to increase its popularity.