Members of the equestrian world have paid tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Leicester City Football Club chairman and racing and polo mogul, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday (27 October).
The 60-year-old Thai billionaire businessman was one of five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside the Leicester City stadium after a Premier League match on Saturday night.
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha made a significant impact on the worlds of racing and polo. With a significant number of racehorses in training under his King Power flag, he enjoyed several victories on the Flat during the past couple of years. His top horses included Beat The Bank, trained by Andrew Balding, and Well Done Fox, trained by Richard Hannon.
“The death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is a tragedy for the world of sport and horse racing,” read a statement from the British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust. “His enthusiasm for racing was clear and I am sure that we had only seen the beginnings of what would have been a tremendous love affair.
“King Power Racing currently has 67 horses in training with seven different trainers — that is a tremendous investment and Vichai’s passion for horses has helped support the livelihoods of many people working within the industry.”
Also a passionate polo player, Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s polo teams have dominated the British high-goal circuit during the past few years, with King Power Foxes winning the prestigious Gold Cup for the British Open championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha developed the King Power team base in Sussex into one of the biggest polo facilities in the world, pouring huge investment into horsepower and employing many of the world’s best polo players, including Argentine 10-goalers Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres.
He also gave several young upcoming British players the opportunity to play on the biggest British stage as members of the King Power teams. These included James Fewster, Hugo Taylor and Hugo Lewis, who described the founder of King Power Duty Free’s death as “a massive loss to polo and football”. Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s sons, Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha and Apichet ‘Tal’ Srivaddhanaprabha, also played on the King Power teams.
“In the tragic events that occurred over the weekend, polo lost one of its great supporters,” read a statement from the Hurlingham Polo Association. “Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be sorely missed by the whole polo community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all the families and friends involved.”
Polo presenter Karl Ude Martinez has also paid tribute to the 60-year-old, describing him as: “A proud man who worked so hard and gave so much to everyone in his life, hugely respected across the world. In everything he pursued he attacked it with such high quality and fearless organisation… creating such iconic moments in world history in football, polo and horse racing.”
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s obituary is due to be published in 8 November issue of Horse & Hound magazine.