There is one less tiger on the hill. Dato Tan Chin Nam, a titan of business, a pioneer of Asian racehorse ownership, a philanthropist and an inaugural board member of the China Horse Club’s International Advisory Council has passed away peacefully at the age of 93.
His service to the China Horse Club and to the sport of thoroughbred racing at large was indeed significant. His footprint, in every endeavour, was always immense.
“My memories of Dato Tan Chin Nam are many over the years. His company has always been enjoyable and our conversations never boring. When we had the chance to strike up meaningful conversations his words were always of encouragement and admiration,” said Teo Ah Khing, Chairman of the China Horse Club.
“As a fellow Malaysian-Chinese, his achievements in business and in horse racing were well known to me, so it was rewarding when he was among the first to welcome me into the world of horse racing. We will miss his company greatly.”
From an early age, when leaving school to sell fruit, vegetables and chickens at a road side stall to support his family during Japan’s occupation of Malaysia, to selling fish to the British Army during the Malayan Emergency, to scaling the world of building and construction, Dato Tan was always ambitious and always practical. The two pillars set him on pathways to success in a myriad of fields.
In business, he co-founded Goldis Berhad and IGB Berhad and his many achievements are headlined by Malaysia’s Mid Valley City as well as the restoration of Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building, the Strand Arcade and The Galleries Victoria and by New Zealand’s The Old Bank Buildings.
In chess, for which he was a passionate daily participant, his support was omnipresent and always warmly received.
And in horse racing, a sport that he returned to after a hiatus in the 1980s, his shadow was large and felt most noticeably in Australia. Four Melbourne Cups (second most by an owner in history), three Cox Plates (with two different horses), two Caulfield Cups, three Derbies and two Oaks defined a legacy as both a racehorse owner and breeder.
While he was always identifiable on racetracks in Australia, he scaled new heights across Europe when Coolmore partnered with him in the 10-time G1 champion racehorse and now sire So You Think.
“Ever engaging, always generous with his time, Dato Tan has been a positive energy in the life of so many for so long that his passing will be felt far and wide,” said Eden Harrington, Vice President of the China Horse Club.
“To Datin Choy, to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and to his many friends, our condolences to you all at this time.”
Dato Tan was honoured for his contribution to the Australian Racing Industry in 2005 when Moonee Valley Racing Club renamed the Feehan Stakes the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. Two years later he founded Think Big Stud, after his dual Melbourne Cup winner.
His life’s legacy in business and horse racing will be carried on. He planned for nothing less.
Dato Tan Chin Nam celebrating his 88th birthday with fellow CHC International Advisory Council members.