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By Sharan Kumar


There is an air of expectancy whenever Dr MAM Ramaswamy strides into racecourses all over the country. The towering presence coupled with the mysterious aura that surrounds him, makes him a truly enigmatic colossus of Indian racing.

Nobody can lay claim to understanding the man. MAM as he is better known, is a very difficult person to understand. Beneath a tough exterior, lies a different personality, which is not always visible to the racing enthusiasts.

MAM is a no nonsense man. He hates to lose. He relentlessly and successfully fought the Government of Tamil Nadu which had banned horse racing. His single-minded pursuit ended fruitfully, with the Supreme Court declaring racing as a game of skill and restored racing in Chennai. The ruling by the highest court in the country brought a healthy respect to the sport and the sports authorities can now breathe easy because it has put to rest once for all any attempt to meddle with the sport of racing by the governments.

MAM is easily the world’s biggest horse owner. He has nearly 700 horses in training. He also owns a Stud Farm. Thus his commitment to the sport is truly phenomenal. There is hardly any horse owner in the country who plans out as meticulously the racing program of all their wards as he does. It is no mean task for he also has a business empire to take care of. The professionals who have been patronized by him have all reaped a rich harvest for he is a generous patron. His trainers have benefited immensely by his ability to target the horses for specific races, with outstanding success. His keen eye for spotting champions has been the envy of all.

What strikes about MAM is the single-minded pursuit of anything that he wishes to get. Quite strangely, he won every big race in the country as many times as he wished to but he had to wait for more than two decades to win his first Indian Derby. Today, his tally in the mother of all Derbys stands at four and by the look of things, it is sure to swell in the coming years.

MAM is a true sports enthusiast though his energies have been mostly concentrated on racing. He was the President of the Indian Hockey Federation and during his stewardship, India won its first and last World Cup hockey championship. Indian sport is poorer because his obsessive indulgence has not spread to other sports. One thing is sure: Come what may, MAM will never be tired of horse racing. Such is his zeal and passion for this sport, which has seen him earn the unique distinction of winning more than 320 classics, a feat that is unlikely to be bettered in a hurry.

MAM is a god-fearing man. " I am god-fearing and highly superstitious. On every big day in racing, I have been wearing the same tie for the last 30 years. I carry the same purse though it has seen better days," says MAM. Till recently, MAM used to wear the same rust colored shirt and the coat, which he had worn for a number of years on all the big occasions because he considered them to be lucky mascots which brought him the desired results. Only of late, he has discarded the coat and the shirt but the tie continues to be the same. MAM is excessively obsessed with winning classics but even this trait does not make him buy horses, which are Asudars (horses which have a mark over their forehead at a particular spot), which is supposed to be unlucky.

MAM loves to dominate. He has kept racing at Chennai going single-handedly. It is difficult to understand why MAM does certain things, which have not gone well with many. He obviously must have a reason but he prefers to keep it to himself. He is unpredictable and it is this trait, which has kept people guessing as to his next move. He loves to spring surprises on people, pull a fast one but he would do anything to ensure that the sport does not suffer. The contradictions of the man are what make him an enigmatic colossus. Race-goers adore him as much as they are wary of him. But one thing is sure: None can take him for granted for his aggressive personality ensures that people do his bidding even before he expresses himself.

It is inconceivable to think what Indian racing would have been without his august presence. It is people like MAM who have made racing what it is.

Star Haven (H Cope up), being lead in by Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy after its triumph in the South Indian Oaks in the year 1972.

Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy kisses Forest Fantasy after its victory in the Invitation Cup in the year 1998.

Familiar look....Leading in Amazing Bay, Star Supreme and Smart Chieftan, all winners of the glamorous McDowell Indian Derby.

Dr. K.T.B. Menon and Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy, leading in Half A Crown, winner of South India Derby - 1975

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