The Singapore horse racing community was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of well-known Indian racehorse owner Dr Omie Rangabashyam on Sunday.
It is understood the Singapore-based stem cell specialist died of a heart attack while visiting relatives in India. He was 55.
Hailing from a family steeped in Indian horse racing, more particularly in Bangalore, Dr Rangabashyam had his first taste of Singapore racing when he owned racehorses in partnership with prominent liver surgeon Dr Tan Kai Chah in the mid to late 2000s.
He also successfully raced his own horses, the most famous being the David Hill-trained Beau Brummell who won the 2009 Group 3 Merlion Trophy in his distinctive multi-coloured jacket under the Byerley Stable.
Those rainbow silks have not been seen at Kranji for a while, suggesting a break from horse ownership in Singapore, which trainer Michael Clements confirmed, but also added Dr Rangabashyam still kept a keen eye on Singapore racing and was actually on the verge of a comeback.
"It's such a big shock. I actually spoke to Omie over the phone on the day he died, in the afternoon, and he sounded okay," said the Singapore champion trainer.
"He last shared a horse with me a couple of years ago, but he still had three horses in UK, including Ritchie Valens (trained in Newmarket by Tom Clover), who's won a couple of races. He told me he was racing at Windsor next Monday.
"Omie was keen to bring this son of Helmet to Singapore to continue his racing career. We were actually planning his comeback to Kranji, he was ready to share some young horses with me, but it wasn't to be."
Clements remembered Dr Rangabashyam as a gentleman, first and foremost, but also a passionate horse lover, who advocated the use of stem cell therapy in horses.
"I trained a few horses for him. The one I remember the most is Whatmore, a four-time winner he shared with Dr KC Tan," he said.
"I also trained Senapathy for him. He named that horse after his great-grandfather Senapathy Mudaliar, who was a famous horse owner in Bangalore.
"Omie has loved horses since he was a child, and has owned a lot of horses over the years.
"Even though he stopped owning horses here for a while, every day he was at the Riding Centre and still followed racing. He was passionate, but he was above all a good friend and a gentleman."
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