Turf baron MAM Ramaswamy more at home with thoroughbreds
Chennai: M.A.M. Ramaswamy (born 30 September 1931), India’s turf baron, has been passionate about sports ever since he played tennis and hockey in school and in Vivekananda college.
He was president of the Indian Hockey Federation when Indian hockey briefly recaptured its old glory in winning the World Cup in Malaysia in 1975. He was also instrumental in Chennai (Madras) hosting several Davis Cup events, including memorable ties against Australia and Mexico at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Coming into horse racing somewhat late, ‘Ramu as he is known in horse racing circles, bought his first horse in partnership with Dr Pratap C. Reddy in the ’60s. He went on to become the single biggest owner of thoroughbreds in the country, owning at one time upto 1,000 racehorses in active training in race courses around the country. There is probably no prestigious cup his horses have not won in India, and several times over.
It was with much fanfare that one of his best horses, ‘Own Opinion’, went to race in the Japan Cup in the ’80s. Although a failure in finishing last of 24 runners in that race, Own Opinion was a groundbreaking Indian racehorse with a wonderful temperament which went on to win the Indian Turf Invitation Cup.
Much later, Mr Ramaswamy’s Mystical won a race in Dubai to bring him a rare honour abroad to add to the several Grade 1 races his horse have won over five decades in more than 500 classics.
In the course of the press conference that he addressed at his home in Santome on Tuesday, a question was bound to crop up about his race horses. His eyes lit up as he said, “Yes, Racehorse are my passion.”
He is a known horse lover who is famous for the splendid maintenance of his racehorses towards which no expense was ever too much. He went on to recount the cruelty his former adopted son had inflicted on horses by building walls in the area around his stud farm in Sholavaram, near Chennai leading to the death of at least one valuable racehorse that ran into a wall.
A walking encyclopaedia on thoroughbreds, Mr Ramaswamy can trace the lineage of any horse several generations back, recounting in detail their performances and their rating, etc. Today, horse racing, in which he takes active interest as owner and Chairman of the Madras Race Club, remains a vital spirit that rejuvenates him even as he fights losing battles on his home front.