One of the top horse breeders in India, Major Pradeep K. Mehra, his wife Mrs. Beena Mehra, and their daughter Radhika Mehra, died in a helicopter accident Tuesday. According to published reports, the helicopter took off from a helped in the higher reaches of Mussoorie under foggy conditions, at 12:05 p.m. and was headed toward Jollygrant airport in Dehra Dun. The chopper crashed into a hill, also killing the pilot and injuring one other person, who was taken to the Army Hospital. The passengers had been in Mussoorie to celebrate New Year's Eve.
Mehra's Usha Stud Farm is one of the three top breeding establishments in India, according to the Website Indiarace.com. A former international polo player, Mehra began his farm in 1973 near New Delhi with a small band of imported mares and the stallion Grey Gaston. The first foal sired by Grey Gaston, Manitou, won the 1978 Indian Derby in record time. Since that time, Mehra's farm bred more than 150 classic winners in that country, including eight winners of the Indian Derby and six winners of the Indian Invitation Cup.
Mehra spent six months of each year in England, and was continually in the process of upgrading his stock. Mehra operated the farm along with his daughters Ameeta and Devika. According to Ushastud.com, Ameeta Mehra studied equine management at The Irish National Stud and received a professional diploma in management education from the Indian Institute of Management. She also studied equine nutrition under Kentucky-based Joe Pagan and Stephen Jackson.
Stallions standing at Usha Stud include Razeen and Steinbeck. Razeen, a son of Northern Dancer purchased from Sheikh Mohammed in 1992, has sired two Indian Derby winners in his first two crops, according to the farm. Steinbeck, a son of Mr. Prospector who was the only horse to defeat champion Arazi as a 2-year-old, was also acquired from Sheikh Mohammed. Included among Steinbeck's progeny is 1999-2000 Indian horse of the year Running Flame.