Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cummings, Chin Nam & The Melbourne Cup

Tan Chin Nam is the patriach of IGB, and also controls Wah Seong. His passions besides business are horse racing and chess. Tan is the only Asian to have won the Melbourne Cup, one of the oldest and most prestigious races in the world. Indeed, he is the only horse owner to have won it three times till today. The Melbourne Cup is in the same league as the English Derby, America's Kentucky Derby and the Dubai Cup. But in folklore terms, the Melbourne Cup is the biggest race in the world full stop.

Twice in 1974 and 1975, it was with Think Big, a horse he co-shared with Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1975 for his second win and the third was in 1996 with Saintly. The largest stake money he ever won was the 1996 Melbourne Cup - A$600,000. Tan has horses in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere.

The Cup is so coveted that top stables and trainers have been sending their best horses on the long journey to Flemington year in, year out. So far, very few have succeeded. We still find the huge Godolphin stable and top trainers such as Luca Cumani and Adrian O'Brien trying to steal the Cup in recent times. The prize money is very good but its still not the richest race in the world.

His friendship with the most successful trainer for Melbourne Cups, Bart Cummings, is legendary. Bart has won an astounding 11 Melbourne Cups till today. Most are just happy to win one, two with a good horse, three with a freakish horse like Makybe Diva. But 11 is just out of this world. Bart Cummings wasn't the best Melbourne Cup trainer today, he earned that title years ago. Now at 81 years of age, the 12th win was just further confirmation of his greatness.

You would think that for a trainer who had won it 11 times in the past, and with a horse owner who has already won it 3 times, that their combination would bring in some support in the betting. Well no, Viewed, went out at a staggering 40-1 and won by a nose. Some things are just destined that way, you go out and run 3,200m and wins by a nose.

Does luck play a part, of course, but ability, knowledge, choosing your friends and business associates wisely, treating them as family, valuing relationships, be good at what you do... also pay a huge part. Tan Chin Nam deserves the joy in winning his 4th Melbourne Cup. The Ingham brothers with hundreds of horses have never even won one. You can throw millions into buying horses and never win one. Its just one of those things in life.

Malaysian horse racing is the pits, its corrupt and largely fixed. lts the biggest crock of shit in the world, and nobody is intent to try to fix it. Over the years there have been glimpses from horse racing world from Malaysia and Singapore which do us proud. One owner, one trainer, one horse. Tan Chin Nam is one savvy horse owner for sure. He has won numerous top races with his horses in the highly competitive Australian horse racing landscape. The other shining light has to be trainer Ivan Allan - in my view easily one of the top 5 trainers in the world for the last 50 years. If only he had better horses or was born in England or Japan, he would have accomplished even more. Ivan won all there is in Malaysia and Singapore, nearly died when he was shot by gangsters (I told you horse racing was very corrupt here), then went to the most competitive and professionally run place in HK racing and became champion trainer almost overnight for a few years, competing with the top few trainers in the world and topping them almost immediately. Ivan is now regarded as a huge hero among the betting public there even though he has retired. Now he still owns some racehorses and still bets, though its harder to make it count as he is now very wealthy.

The last shining light I remember was a horse called Jumbo Jet. He was a freak in the 70s, and if he had raced anywhere else, he would have been tops. After winning everything he did go to America to race there but had an injury. Now that was a true racehorse, our own Seabiscuit and Secretariat rolled into one.

Viewed's victory gave Cummings a 12th cup victory and, as he shuffled through the media scrum to greet his charge, the grand old man of the track was already talking of a 13th. Viewed earned A$3.3 million for its owner, Tan Chin Nam, and paid a whopping A$46.50 to those who follow the master rather than form.


solomon said...

If not mistaken, Chin Nam is also a good chess player.

Do agree of the danger in horse racing biz here. Maybe a revamp required?

yok hoong said...

you are right. horse racing is in the dumps. just compared to our neighbour in the south. today, even 11 years horses are still actively racing where they should be sent to the pastures.
racing like other sports in this country are going down the tubes. and it mirrors the sad state of economic and political affairs in this country.
Truly sad for a country which has so much potential.

Hels said...

I love the fuss before, during and after the Melbourne Cup, so I was delighted to make a link to your blog.

Many thanks
Art and Architecture, mainly

racingtips said...

Very nice post I also want to add that the person must be careful about the riders who will be going to ride the horse in the race course and will able to win the race. Horse riding is like a “King’s Sport” and which generally liked by so many aspirants. Singapore Horse Racing Tips

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