Best Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Owned Horses


The Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes will be run under weight-for-age conditions over the mile on Saturday at Mooney Valley. The race is named after Malaysian businessman and horse race owner Dato’ Tan Chin Nam. A great friend of the late, great Bart Cummings, Dato’ Tan owned many champion horses to have raced in Australia. He formed a formidable team with Cummings and provided four of the champion trainers Melbourne Cups. Dato’ Tan’s chequered racing colours have been etched into racing folklore and into the minds of many horse racing enthusiasts throughout the last half a century. We’ve picked out the best Dato’ Tan Chin Nam horses to have raced in Australia in no particular order.


Dato’ Tan Chin Nam’s first really good horse with Bart was the Bay Gelding Think Big. He acquired the horse from the Trentham yearling sales in New Zealand for $10,000. Think Big would win his first Melbourne Cup in 1974, beating another one of Bart’s horses, and favourite that year, Leilani in the process. The following year he included Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Adbul Rahman into the horse which echoed Dato’ Tan’s mantra that horse racing was better when shared with family and friends. Think Big started the 1975 Melbourne Cup at 33-1 after his second last effort in the MacKinnon Stakes on the Saturday. Despite the weight of 58kg, he won the race and it was Bart’s first and only back-to-back win in the Cup.


The horse from heaven. Arguably the best horse that Dato’ Tan owned, certainly for an extended period of time anyway. The chestnut gelding finished outside of the placings only twice in his racing career. He was named Australia’s champion racehorse in 1996 when he won the Australian Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. A tendon injury would bring the champion’s career to an end when he was in his prime but not before he gave Dato’ Nam and Bart one hell of a ride!


Allez Wonder was not the best racehorse that either Dato Tan Chin Nam or Bart Cummings was involved in however the mare did win the Group 1 Toorak Handicap in 2009. This was also a notable win as it was the first group 1 success for Michelle Payne. Allez Wonder shocked everyone including the owner and saluted in the mile race at Caulfield at a huge 41-1.


Dato’ Tan was exuberant when his 3 year old colt, God’s Own, produced one of the most thrilling finishes in the Caulfield Guineas in recent times in 2005. In a performance that needs to be seen to be believed, the colt weaved its way through traffic to overrun Paratroopers in the dying stages of the race. It would be his only group 1 and would fall just shy of $1 million in prize money when he was retired.


Faint Perfume was a very good 3 year old against her own sex.  That is an accurate assessment of the mare. She was narrowly beaten in the Thousand Guineas over the mile before winning the Wakeful by 3 lengths and then the Crown Oaks in the Spring. She returned in the Autumn to win the Vinery Stud Stake and then couldn’t quite complete the Oaks double when second to Once Were Wild in the AJC Oaks. She did not return well as an older mare and struggled throughout the rest of her short career.


Roman Emperor was not the best horse that Dato’ Tan owned but he did make it to the breeding barn as a stallion. His highlight came as a 3 year old when he took out the AJC Derby in 2009. A ripper of a call from Ladbrokes own Mark Shean can be heard below.


After finishing last in the traditional Bart Cummings Melbourne Cup lead up race, The Mackinnon Stakes, Viewed was sent out a 40-1 shot in the 2008 Melbourne Cup. In the closest finish in Melbourne Cup history the officially dark brown stallion, although almost black to the eye, edged out the Luca Cumani trained Bauer. It was so close that the electronic timing devices in the saddle clothes had Bauer finishing one-hundredth of a second faster than Viewed. He would win one other race, the 2009 Caulfield Cup, but over $6 million in prize money.


The duo of Dato Tan Chin Nam and Bart Cummings would wait till late on in both their lives to produce arguably their best horse. A horse that would almost break a life-long friendship when Dato’ Tan sold a majority share of the horse to Coolmore Stud seeing So You Think finish his career in the UK. Before he went overseas this magnificent looking animal would win 2 Cox Plates, one as a 3 year old, and almost $6 million in prizemoney.  He was unbeaten in his last Spring campaign in 2010 before finishing a brave 3rd at the unsuitable 3200m distance of the Melbourne Cup.

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