Obituary

Bard of racing M.A.M. Ramaswamy dead

M.A.M. was better than most of his ilk as he won races both with bad jockeys and good horses or good riders on poor horses

A great sadness clouds over the horseracing industry with the news of M.A.M. Ramaswamy’s passing. A loss akin to a sort of disturbance of cosmic orderliness.

A multi-faceted personality he was often referred to as the Bard of racing. The numero uno of racing put so much distance between himself and the rest of the owners in the country. MAM, the single largest owner of India, known by different names — Racing Baron, Big Daddy of racing, Doctor of Turfology, High Priest of racing, Big Boss, etc.

He scaled peaks which will not be easy to conquer. Such was his domination, that any other owner who has raced, is buried beneath his avalanche of accomplishments never to have the chance of being recognised as the best even for a week!

MAM was better than most of his ilk as he won races both with bad jockeys and good horses or good riders on poor horses. He was both orthodox and unorthodox as he had the ability to change trainers, jockeys and horses to the optimal plans from which to strike leaving others in the shade. He was more intuitive planning strategies and giving precise instructions at the paddock. His ability to choose and pick the right ones in all situations saw him excel in all races at different centres. He had the gift to identify his horses from a distance.

His remarkable mental ability and determination took him to heights of which others can only dream. His achievement of 600 classics would be the highpoint of his racing greatness. He will be remembered as a truly great, the winner of thousands of races.

He won everything there was to win in racing and there aren’t enough superlatives to describe MAM’s feat. He was the owner every jockey wanted to ride for, every trainer wanted to school and every punter chose to bet on.

MAM though royal by birth never hesitated to be in the stables and showed no allergy to horses and hay. He gained so much knowledge that he began tutoring others. He became part of racing folklore when he went on to win the plum races — more than twice the number of the next most successful owners. “Someone told me I do make a habit of winning classics. He said it was a good habit to get into, isn't it? when asked for his reaction during one of his classic triumphs. Apart from his administrative skills (Indian won the Hockey World Cup when he was president of IHF) he was a gymkhana rider, cricket and tennis player.

Many years ago when asked for his reaction on achieving unique feat he just said: "I am happy and thrilled. I have been fortunate and lucky. You need to have a little luck in this sport. Until recently MAM used to enlarge his stable every season and his tally of winners kept regularly increasing. His equines lived up to his expectations. While buying the horses he did not draw their planetary charts, but he did not buy one with an asudar mark. He had the rare horsesense to buy prospective winners at the yearly auctions and groom them into winners."

Despite his huge business interests, there was nothing more compelling in his life than racing. This is endorsed by the fact that he spent lot of time at his Chettinad Stud Farm, stable, seeing the horses exercising. Oldtimers would voch for his presence at the track trials at the break of dawn. His list of winners included some truly remarkable champions "Star Haven, Air Hostess, Half A Crown, Red Satin, Own Opinion, Exhilaration, Oxford Blue, Star Contender, Star Performer, Smart Chieftan, Southern Empire, Mystical, etc. So when asked which was his best horse, he said: "It has to be Own Opinion first. Then Smart Chieftan, Southern Empire, Mystical.Own Opinion (Jagdish astride) won the first Invitation Cup for him in 1979 beating Royal Tern, which he considered the most exciting moment. In an earlier interview he had said: I love my best horse as much as I love my worst.

From the days of Raymond, many good trainers "SJK Irani, Fred Black, A. B. David, Rashid Byramji (spotted Silver Jet, his first classic winner), Imtiaz Sait, Haskell David, Jim Foley, S. Ganapathy, Robert Foley” worked for him.

I cannot single out just one trainer or jockey for my success. I have been fortunate to have good trainers and jockeys (some even from abroad). But the Foleys were closely associated with me†he added.

Forging a formidable combination with A. B. David and Jagdish, M.A.M. reached his 100th classic through Queen of the Hills in 1982-83. Later, jockey Robin Corner also had a fruitful partnership with the stable.

A curious coincidence was that the 200th classic was won by Great Spectacle trained by Robert Foley in 1994-95 while Amazing Girl trained by father Jim gave the 300th five years later. His 400th win came through Own Vision (B.Prakash up) in the Bangalore St. Leger in 2004. It was in the City of Joy racing history was made on Dec. 22, 2007, when the D. David-trained Classic Sky (O'Donoghue up) took

Ramaswamy to altitude 500 in his Classics tally at the Hastings race course. By winning the Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club Mysore 2000 Guineas Bold Command (Trevor astride) gave him his 600th win in September 2015. Trainers Robert Foley and S. Ganapathy considered it a great privilege to train horses for MAM. "He is one of the best persons to work for as he gives a free hand in managing a large string. A tireless crusader of racing he fought tooth and nail to get racing back in Guindy after it was abolished and then run by the Government of TamilNadu's Department of Racing. No race club in India can boast of such fantastic facilities available in Guindy for which he earned the eternal gratitude of the sports fraternity. Race day will not be the same without him.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 16, 2020 7:36:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/obituary/bard-of-racing-mam-ramaswamy-dead/article7942411.ece

Next Story