Tributes flow for Dato Tan Chin Nam

3 min read

The thoroughbred industry is mourning the loss of Dato Tan Chin Nam, the man behind Think Big Stud and the winning owner of four Melbourne Cup and three Cox Plate winners, who has died age 92. He had a famously successful association with the legendary Bart Cummings which began in 1971 with the first horse he ever owned, Think Big (NZ) (Sobig {NZ}).

Think Big won the 1974 and 1975 Melbourne Cups, forging a relationship between owner and trainer that would see them win the 1996 Melbourne Cup with Saintly (Sky Chase {NZ}) and the 2008 Melbourne Cup with Viewed (Scenic {Ire}).

Saintly would also win the 1996 Cox Plate, while So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) wore the famous black, white and yellow colours of Dato Tan to victory in the 2009 and 2010 WFA feature.

Those famous colours, featuring the chess-board pattern with yellow sleeves were a reference to Dato Tan's passion for chess, which he was a huge patron of in his home country, Malaysia, as well as across the Asian region.

He rose from humble beginnings, as a roadside vendor selling vegetables, chickens and fruit to become one of Malaysia's most influential businessmen, primarily through property development.

He invested heavily in his two loves, chess and horse racing and in 2007, having had phenomenal success as an owner, he purchased Inverness Stud and named it Think Big Stud in honour of his champion from the 1970s.

Those famous colours, featuring the chess-board pattern with yellow sleeves

Pendragon (NZ) was the foundation stallion on the 300-acre property on the Wingecarribee River, where Dato Tan maintained a place for his spelling racehorses and broodmare band.

Group 1 winner Norzita (NZ) (Thorn Park) and Group 2 winner Miss Gunpowder (Pendragon {NZ}) were raised at Think Big Stud, while champions such as So You Think, Viewed and VRC Oaks winner Faint Perfume (Shamardal {USA}) spelled on the property.

In February 2017, Think Big was leased to Greg and Jo Griffin of Lime Country Thoroughbreds, while the mares and racehorses owned by Think Big Stud Pty Ltd still reside there under the care of the new managers.

Dato Tan Chin Nam's contribution to Australian racing was marked in 2005 when the Moonee Valley Racing Club named one of its feature spring events after him, a Group 2 weight-for-age event held in September.

Bart Cummings and Dato Tan Chin Nam

Other feature winners owned by Dato Tan included G1 Flight S. winner Danarani (Danehill {USA}), G1 AJC Oaks winner Danendri (Danehill {USA}), G1 Caulfield Guineas winner God’s Own (Redoute's Choice), G1 AJC Derby winner Roman Emperor (Montjeu {Ire}), G1 Caulfield Guineas winner Wonderful World (Agnes World {USA}), G1 Doncaster Hcp winner Catalan Opening (NZ) (Kaapstad {NZ}) and G1 Toorak Hcp winner Allez Wonder (Redoute's Choice).

His contribution to the thoroughbred industry was marked with many tributes on Monday.

Words from the industry