Australian racing has lost one of its greatest supporters, Malaysian businessman and philanthropist Dato Tan Chin Nam who has died aged 93.
A four-time Melbourne Cup-winning owner with Think Big (1974, 1975) Saintly (1996) and Viewed (2008), all trained by his long-time friend Bart Cummings, Dato Tan has a Group Two race named in his honour at Moonee Valley.
Born into humble circumstances, Dato Tan became one of Malaysia’s most successful property developers, his business extending to Australia and the renovation of Sydney’s Queen Victoria building and Capitol Theatre.
His success in business allowed him to indulge his passion for chess and horse racing while at the same time setting up a scholarship program for lower income students among his philanthropic pursuits.
The first racehorse he owned was Think Big and the experience whetted his appetite.
He owned many outstanding horses trained by Cummings and one true champion, So You Think, the winner of 10 Group One races including two Cox Plates.
So You Think was bought out of a New Zealand paddock by Duncan Ramage, his friend and the manager of Dato Tan’s Australian racing interests including his Think Big Stud in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Dato Tan and Cummings had an enduring relationship with its ups and downs.
But when the trainer faced ruin after the collapse of the Cups King syndicates in the 1980s, Dato Tan stepped in and bought Cummings’ Princes Farm so no-one else could get their hands on it before Cummings could buy it back.
Dato Tan’s passion for chess extended to the naming of such horses as Catalan Opening and Grandmaster and his distinctive racing colours with their black and white checks.
Many racing participants have posted tributes on Twitter including Bart’s son, trainer Anthony Cummings.
“Very sad to hear of the passing of Dato Tan Chin Nam. He was a part of our family’s life for over 50 years. One less tiger on the hill. He will be sorely missed. #@DGRTBS #valechinnam #valedatotan #RIP” he said.
Blake Shinn who rode Viewed, the last of Cummings 12 Melbourne Cup winners posted: “Saddened to hear of Dato Tan Chin Nam’s passing. I was privileged to win the Melbourne Cup in those famous silks. He and Bart gave me a go as a young buck – Viewed, Accumulate, Precedence and many others. They will be together cheering James Cummings in the Cup this year. #RIP”