What’s in a name? Divinity, yes, but defeat too

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: As the Indian racing world fetes and felicitates M.A.M. Ramaswamy for his unique achievement of 500 Classic winners, now is as good a time as any to retell a nice story that the former Indian legspin legend B.S. Chandrashekar narrates.

Back in Chandra’s time, cricketers did not quite possess the same glamour quotient as they do now, but they were still much sought-after in high society, such as it is, around the country. In Madras, M.A.M. Ramaswamy, then a burgeoning stud farm owner, was among those who hosted the cricketers, even inviting them to the races as his guests now and then.

At one party, recalls Chandra, word got out that a horse named Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa was a sureshot winner in the next day’s races. The cricketers were by no means rolling in cash as they do now, but the more adventurous of the lot scrambled around and bet what they could on the horse, ten or twenty rupees.

With divinity written into its name, there was no way it would lose, was the tip-off.

But Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa did not quite smile on the cricketers. In race after race, the horse came up short. Eventually, the horse changed hands and the new owner gave it a new name. Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa became Lyndon Flora. Chandra says the horse never looked back after that.