“I AM A VERY SUPERSTITIOUS MAN”
'Mystical' Monarch of the 'Southern Empire' achieves 500 Classics! Takes off with 'Silver Jet' – Soars to 'Classic Sky'!
Dr. MAM Ramaswamy is an enigma. The pillar of Indian racing, with the largest string of horses, achieved yet another unique milestone when Classic Sky touched the winning post in the Kolkata Oaks on Saturday. Dr. Ramaswamy is the first horse-owner in world to break the 500 Classics barrier. It was way back in 1965 that Ramu, as he is fondly referred to, tasted his first success of the Classics with Silver Jet. The heady feeling apparently led to a passionate addiction. The industrialist from Chennai has won every major race in the country. Indiarace while congratulating his 'Sweeping Success' also acknowledges his stupendous achievement and raises a sincere 'Tribute' to the doyen of Indian racing. In an informal chat with North-End, a little after the Classic endeavour, Dr. Ramaswamy shared not only his closely guarded racing strategies but also his inner feelings. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Indiarace: Congratulations, Dr Ramaswamy. How does it feel to have 500 Classics victories under your belt?
MAM: I am very fortunate to achieve this kind of success. My various trainers, jockeys and my entire team over the years have put in their best and I am very happy at the moment leading in my 500th Classic winner.
IR: Did you ever think you would achieve this landmark?
MAM: Well, when I began, I had set my eyes on a hundred Classics. When I reached my first goal, I went for the 200 Classics mark. However, when Amazing Girl got me Classic number 300, I knew 500 was attainable. I now know that there is more to come.
IR: Do you prepare your horses well in advance targeting them for certain Classics? The general perception is that you start your preparation almost a year in advance.
MAM: It’s not that way. I assess my horses in their first couple of runs. It’s clearer then to judge their potential. Only then the decisions are arrived at and preparations begin.
IR: Which of your 500 Classic victories is the most memorable?
MAM: Own Opinion's victory over Royal Tern was a thriller.
IR: Which is the best horse you have owned?
MAM: I would name three – Mystical, Red Chieftain and Southern Empire.
IR: When you invest in thoroughbreds, do you choose them personally or do you rely on advices?
MAM: It’s my personal choice. I do take my Vet along for an opinion though.
IR: What is it that you look for while buying a horse?
MAM: Pedigree and conformation. Both are equally important.
IR: It is believed that you are abreast with the information pertaining to your horses. With such a large string that is spread across the country, how do you manage to do so?
MAM: That is correct. I am aware about my horses. I talk to all my trainers every morning and take their feedback in detail. I am blessed with a very strong memory.
IR: Are you computer savvy?
MAM: No. Horses are not machines and I rely more on my personal conclusions than theoretical calculations.
IR: Your passion for horses is well known, is there any other passion you nurse?
MAM: I am only passionate about horses.
IR: You have your share of critics and detractors, how do you take allegations?
MAM: Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I believe in freedom of speech. How can I stop anyone from voicing their thoughts? I have a clear conscience. I do not react even to rubbish that some people speak, especially those who have absolutely no knowledge! It’s part of the game and I carry on.
IR: How do you react to winning and losing?
MAM: As anyone else would! It’s not the fault of the horse when it loses. Over the years, you learn to take everything in your stride.
IR: Any frustrating moments?
MAM: It is frustrating when someone comes up with flattery and pampering. I hate pampering. I prefer to be left to myself.
IR: Your visit to the Mahalaxmi Race Course is not as frequent as it used to be. Will you be in Mumbai for the McDowell Indian Derby?
MAM: I like Mumbai and I will be there even earlier than the Derby Day.
IR: Are you superstitious?
MAM: Yes, I am very superstitious. I wore the same 'lucky' suit and tie for over 250 Classics!
IR: Your favourite trainer and jockey?
MAM: It would not be fair to single out anyone. I have had the good fortune to have been associated with some top-class trainers and jockeys. They have all contributed to my success.
IR: There are rumours in Mumbai that you are not keeping well. How is your health?
MAM: I am in pretty good shape and all is well. In fact, I am 100% fit. No, make that 110%.
IR: Finally, since you plan your moves in advance, have you also considered on whom you will entrust the reigns of your impressive and huge empire, when you bid farewell to this hectic and time-consuming passion of yours?
MAM: Yes, it will be my son, Muthiah.