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Obituary | TENGOAL


brought Vichai huge success. In the British season alone, over five heavily successful years, Vichai secured the biggest names to play for his high-goal outfit – not least in Facundo Pieres and his brother Gonzalito, two of the finest players in the world – and lifted trophies and titles in the most prestigious of tournaments. Three times, the late Leicester City


Football Club Chairman's teams claimed the Gold Cup for the British Open Championships. In 2015, their King Power team, powered by 200 of the best polo ponies in the world, and resourced from their HQ at Billingbear, Berkshire, which Vichai maintained as one of the greatest polo facilities


in the world, won the


double of the Gold Cup and The Cartier Queen's Cup, the two major trophies held at Cowdray Park Polo Club and Guard's Polo Club respectively. King Power first entered the Gold Cup for the British Open in 2014, and lost the final to Dubai that year, but in 2015, they completed 'The Double', and won the Gold Cup again in 2016 and 2017. The extraordinary rise of the King


Power name and indeed Vichai's family itself in British sporting circles was even further enhanced when on May 2, 2016, the Leicester City Football Club completed a fairy-tale year in English football's Premier League and lifted the


title. They had started the season with odds of 5000-1 to win it. Vichai, 60, had acquired Leicester City Football Club for £39m in 2010. Back on the polo fields, King Power did


not compete in the British Open in 2017, the family having chosen instead to be headline sponsors through to 2020. Vichai and his family were very private,


even down at the polo, where their love of the sport was self-evident. Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha, one of Vichai's sons who has played regularly in the King Power Foxes team, offered an intriguing insight into the Thai family's love of polo, revealing that Vichai allowed his sons, Top and his brother Apichet (Tal), four months a year away from their Duty- Free business, which made the South- East Asian a billionaire businessman, to concentrate on polo. Vichai had started the polo dynasty


two decades ago, building a polo field in Pattaya, and encouraged his entire family to ride. He then owned the VR Polo Club in Bangkok and had been the president of Ham Polo Club, near London, from 2008 to 2012. "My father was the first Thai polo


player. He started playing polo around 20 years ago, while the whole family enjoys dressage and show-jumping." Top and his brother, Tal, started with


"Vichai had started the polo dynasty two


decades ago, building a polo field in Pattaya, and encouraged the entire family to ride"


dressage and show jumping as primary school children. Aimon, Vichai's wife, and his daughters Ruxx and Roong took part in dressage. "My father brought all his polo


equipment from the UK and I saw him hit the ball when I was nine years old. We were curious what was our father doing. My father helped the whole family to have a love for horses," Top explained in Cowdray Park Polo Park's Yearbook. "The family has been a huge influence


on the polo world, putting in huge efforts to raise the bar in standards, facilities and ponies. They brought a very professional approach to the whole thing," said David Woodd, CEO of the Hurlingham Polo Association. "What happened is a huge loss to Mr Vichai's family, to the polo world, and to football." The


legacy that Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh created will live on.


31


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