Racing was in this MAM's blood
By Shailendra Awasthi
Times of India
M A M Ramaswamy , the 84-year-old business tycoon, who once controlled one of the biggest business empires in Chennai, passed away in a city hospital at 4.30pm on Wednesday . Confirming the news, G P Jayakumar, spokesperson for his cousin A C Muthiah, said the patriarch of the 103-year-old Chettinad empire, had been undergoing treatment for multiple health problems at the hospital. On Saturday, Ramasamy's health condition worsened and he was put on life support.
His body has been kept at the Ramachandra Medical College Hospital at Porur and funeral would be conducted on Sunday at 12.30pm.
In recent months, the `Raja of Chettinad' as he was called, had been involved in an acrimonious and bitterly fought feud with his adopted son and sole heir M A M R Muthiah, managing director of the Chettinad Group.
In June, he started a legal process to annul Muthiah's adoption. Ramasamy had made the declaration, “my son will kill me any moment,“ shortly after disowning him.
Acknowledged as a community leader of the Chettiars, Ramasamy , the grandson of merchant prince Raja Sir Annamalai, upheld the family tradition of philanthropy through a number of schools and hospitals. His other illustrious cousin is former finance minister P Chidambaram.
A legend in the world of horse-racing and called the `Turf Moghul' for his expensive passion, Ramasamy was the biggest owner of thoroughbreds, having owned at least 1,000 horses in active training in race courses across the country . Indian racing lost one of its greatest patrons when turf baron Dr M A M Ramaswamy passed away in Chennai on Wednesday .
The 84-year-old was perhaps the greatest horse owner Indian racing has ever seen with more than 500 horses in training at all times over the last four decades. Even today , nearly 700 horses owned by him are running across the country .He had a private trainer in virtually every major racing centre in India. He was passionate about his horses winning and loved to see them dominate at all venues.
With more than 600 classics to his credit, his domination of Indian racing was unparalleled. He has won eight Indian Derby crowns, the greatest racing prize in the country through Be Safe, Diabolical, Southern Regent, Starsky , Smart Chieftan, Amazing Bay , Star Supreme and Exhilaration.
Reports say he had executed a will to ensure that the famed gold and brown silk colours which his jockeys sported keep flying high even after his demise. He had set up a trust, Dr M A M Ramaswamy Chettiyar Trust, to see his horse racing empire continue and had asked his cousin A C Muthiah to oversee the trust. It is an irony that Chennai will be hosting the Invitation Weekend in March after almost a decade and he won't be around to witness it.
His death is also a great loss to the Indian breeding Industry as he was the biggest spender in buying horses. “The passing away of my dear friend Ramu is a great loss to Indian racing and breeding. His feat of winning more than 600 clas sics remains unmatched.Both of us had a great ambition of winning the Indian Derby which we won jointly with Exhilaration. May his soul rest in peace,“ said leading Indian breeder Cyrus Poonawalla.
“Dr MAM strode across the Indian turf like a colossus with his record classic tally. I always shared a warm relationship with him and admired and observed his involvement and knowledge of virtually all aspects of racing during my tenure as chairman of Turf Authorities of India. What saddens me even more is the fact that he has left us just months before the Madras Race Club was to host the Invitation,“ said Vivek Jain, former chairman of RWITC.