Tribute paid to Leong Poi
August 3, 2012 · 0 CommentsTHE death of owner-breeder Rupert Leong Poi has shocked the racing fraternity and several of his close friends have paid glowing tribute to the southern businessman, who founded Erin Farms.
One of his early trainers, Joe Hadeed, who trained his foundation mare Up Tempo, recalled his acquaintance with the jovial Leong Poi.
“He was one of the first fellas to bring down a mare in foal, which produced Royal Boatside, and was very successfull. He represented us in Caracas, Venezuela (at the Clasico Internacional del Caribe), but unfortunately he was in the year with Beheaded,” said Hadeed.
Hadeed, whose wife Myrna bred 2003 Triple Crown winner Top Of The Class, which Leong Poi bought as a yearling for $61,000, added: “He is a loss to racing. He was in racing long before me. I think the late Eric ‘Colt’ Durant and Vincent Roberts trained horses for him before me. He was a lovely man, and when he bought Top Of The Class, he encouraged Merlin (Samlalsingh) to buy half-share.
“Up Tempo was one of the horses I trained for Merlin and him and we went to Puerto Rico for the Clasico del Caribe with her. She won several top creole races…she was the best horse I trained for him. He was always grateful as an owner when his horses won. He would call you and thank you and took an interest in the horses by coming to the track regularly.
“I sympathise with his family as he is a big loss to them. He was a good businessman and used to enjoy parties and luncheons, which he hosted.”
Betting Levy Board (BLB) chairman Kama Maharaj, a fellow southerner who knew Leong Poi well, said: “When he had to have his legs amputated a few years ago (because of diabetes) he was very depressed. As president of the (Arima Race) Club then, we cast a spot for him near the media section to see the races (at Santa Rosa Park).
“Despite the loss of his legs he never lost his enthusiasm for the sport. Horse racing was his life and passion. I doubt he would have come out of depression if he could not have come to racing.
“His friends were supposed to bring him to racing on Emancipation Day, but he was hopitalised and died that same day. He is a tremendous loss to racing and was a great human being.”
Maharaj continued: “He was a very astute businessman and built a solid business with the highest amount of integrity and respect among his employees. I know one senior person, who reached his retirement age, went back out to work for Rupert because he treated him like family. Rupert was held in the highest regard in the South business community.”
Top Of The Class swept the 2003 Triple Crown series (Easter Guineas, Midsummer Classic and Trinidad Derby) and went on to win the Champion Stakes. The owners pocketed a $1 million bonus offered by CLICO for any horse winning the Triple Crown and the Champion Stakes.
Top Of The Class also won the 2,000-metre Gold Cup.
Leong Poi also owned top two-year-old Temporama, which was trained by Grant Lourenco.
Rupert Leong Poi is survived by wife Joy, sons Ronald and Ian and daughters Carol, Jennifer and Laureen.
The funeral service will be held on Monday at La Romaine RC Church, La Romaine.
In a sad run for racing, Arima Race Club clerk of the scale Winston Xavier died two weeks ago, followed a week later by prominent owner Alvin Thomas, whose funeral will be held from 10.30 a.m. today at St Finbar’s RC Church on Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin.
Source: Glen Mohammed, Trinidad Express
By USPORTT Desk