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Dr. M.A.M. RAMASWAMY
THE GENTLE GIANT
A titan of the Indian racing scene, his is a life that dreams are made of! Having realized his dreams and beyond, there is no conquest in the annals of Indian racing that he has not won, making him the undisputed badshah of racecourses across the country.
Profiling and chronicling an enigma like Dr. M. A. M. Ramaswamy is certainly not an easy task, for if I were to say that his reputation precedes him, it would be a gross understatement. Having graced the Indian racing turfs for the past 57 years now, the initials MAM Muthiah Annamalai Muthiah stand for three generations of Chettiars of Chettinad, and royal clan that needs no introduction in South India. For that matter, these initials need no introduction to the racing fraternity, too.
The excitement was uncontrollable when the man himself agreed for a little tete-a-tete on a July weekend at the Pune
races. Enjoying the races at the pristine Pune Turf Club, I was wondering as to where the meeting would take place, till word came that he would meet me at the stables of his trainer Dallas Todywalla in the evening. The venue sounded a bit odd to me initially, but looking back in hindsight, I now realize that we could not have met at a better place. The unbridled passion that MAM harbours for this sport and the noble creature, it struck me that he was more at home in the stables than in the confines of a five-star hotel room. Sitting on the rickety chairs with small glasses of steaming tea, the fragrance of earth from the faint drizzle and the occasional neighing of horses, the ambience attained dizzying heights as MAM got into a heady conversation that proved to be more intoxicating than pegs of Royal Salute. Traversing the course and events of the past five decades, one cannot help but admire MAM love for horses. If Shakespeare in Richard III said, A horse! My kingdom for a horse, then MAM passion for horses certainly fits the bill. He is a true Philip (Philiphippos) a lover of horses. His mastery of equine literature is almost like second nature, his eyes on the horse and his mind on the track. The younger son of Rajah Sir Muthiah Chettiar of Chettinad, he was born in Madras on 30th September 1931. After graduation, he was apprenticed to the vast and diversified family business of the Rs.8000 million Chettinad Gorup, whose business interests range from cement to information technology. He is currently chairman of the group founded by his grandfather, the late Dr. Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar, in 1912. The most striking quality of this visionary businessman was
his ability to lift the spirits of all those around him to higher realms of endeavour. His son, the late Dr. Rajah Sir Muthiah Chettiar, and grandson Dr. M. A. M. Ramaswamy, inheritors of this glorious legacy, have taken the house of Chettinad to heights of excellence and chiselled a business house which looks upon business asa means of social transformation through quality products, the spirit of innovation and a sensitive sense of social responsibility Strive, Save and Serve, being the corporate credo.
But, like they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step. Treading back on MAM formative years, childhood was life in wonderland in the company of his late brother Kumarajah M. A. M. Muthiah. The fondness that MAM harbours for his elder brother is immediately apparent in the mellowness of his voice as he speaks about him. The misty eyes talk of the solid bond that the two brothers shared since childhood and how his untimely demise in 1970 has left a deep void in MAM's life.
The love for sports is something that MAM portrayed since childhood and he jumped into the saddle at the age of 12 and soon was trotting all over the palace. By the age of 16 he started playing polo in the august company of the likes of Dilip Sodhi and V. P. Singh. The love for horses was something that was coming to the fore by this time. Horse racing caught on quickly too and his escapades to the races in his youth are something to speak of. During the initial days it was sneaking off on cycles during study hours to the local racecourse in Madras and later even to Bangalore and Calcutta.He reminisces the good old days when in Bombay, he used to rise early and come to the tracks and work with greats like Aziz Mohammed and Vasant Shinde.
But the real initiation into horse racing came at the hands of his brother and they approached Rashid Byramji, the doyen of Indian racing, and who bought him his first horse, Silver Jet, in 1964 from the Raja of Nasarganj. Owned jointly by MAM and his brother, Silver Jet holds the distinction of setting MAM on a track, which would blaze in the years to come. Silver Jet gave MAM his first Classic victory when he thundered past the winning post with Pandu Khade in the saddle in the Bangalore Colts Trial Stakes in 1965.
After winning his first classic, the sky was the limit and things just started getting better with another of their horses, Tudor Jet, clinching the Bangalore Derby in 1967,
at which time MAM's brother was there by his side to share the glory and the horse was jointly owned by them.
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