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The Last Anglo-Indian Jockeys Of Kolkata | Unique stories from India

August 16, 2019


The Anglo-Indian community has
brought horse-racing to Kolkata Kolkata had four race courses – Behala was one There was a race course in Tollygunge And a few other places in Kolkata Then suddenly it started losing its glamour All the rich owners like The Maharajas,
the Maharanis, the big names They all went away They would race for the fun of it The big houses, business people, like Jardine
Henderson & Company, the tea companies They owned a lot of horses too Any Maharaja that we have heard about? I rode for the Maharani of Cooch Behar Richard Alford was a very good rider I was never as good, but I trained under him The Alfords are considered the first family
of horse racing in Kolkata We have had five generations in horse racing My father and his brothers were all jockeys My grandfather was a jockey The most promising jockey of the young generation
was Rutherford Alford My accident took place in 2006, in June I was riding a horse called Strong Rumors There was another horse on the outside who
had come across me And my horse clipped him. Usually if you clip horses they tend to get
back up and balance But this one just went straight down and there
were twelve horses behind me There was another horse behind me which hit
my horse and landed on me The horse rolled over me, damaging my spine Do you think the next generation
of Alfords would get into horse racing? I don’t think anyone is interested It’s dangerous. People don’t want their children to go through
the same thing The fear of Rutherford’s accident created
tremors in the community Everybody was shocked. We swore we would not let
our future children become jockeys As of today there are only two Anglo-Indian
jockeys in Kolkata One is Christopher Alford, the other is me To be honest There were a lot of jockeys here in Kolkata,
but slowly they all left They were pretty old jockeys and some met
with accidents and then retired The others had jobs to attend to or got better
jobs abroad so they left I was really taken up by it I wanted to become a jockey, so I became one But other riders’ children were not keen
to get into it Why do you think that is so? There was no interest probably. There are risk factors involved They are scared of accidents Now when accidents happen usually you break
a bone in your body, hand or legs Something or the other Even in a normal fall you might break your wrist Rutherford is now a horse trainer Despite losing his ability to walk on this track Rutherford still visits it everyday Do you regret not being able to ride? I feel sad but then life has to go on. You just cannot keep thinking about it If you have that attitude you will get depressed It’s better not to think about it As long as I am around horses I am happy There is nothing better I could ask for He may never be able to ride again But racing will always be in Rutherford’s blood Others from his community
may have forfeited their legacy But as long as Rutherford is around There will always be an Anglo-Indian
on Kolkata’s race tracks

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