Richard Hannon leads tributes to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Thai billionaire and Leicester City owner was a prominent racing figure

  • Monday 29 October
  • News
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Richard Hannon has paid tribute after it was confirmed Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died in a helicopter crash on Saturday evening.

The Thai billionaire owned Leicester City and was leaving the ground after their match against West Ham United.

The club issued a statement late on Sunday confirming Srivaddhanaprabha and four others were killed when the aircraft fell from the sky and burst into flames at the south east end of the King Power Stadium at about 8.30pm.

Hannon, who has had 10 horses run under the King Power Racing banner this season, said: “It’s shocking, you couldn’t meet a nicer man.

“He was kind, generous, he enjoyed his sport immensely and listening to the reports on the TV and radio, there hasn’t been one person say a bad thing about him – that is rare, it’s unheard of.

“His wealth he used for so much good, donating to charities and hospitals. He was a hard-working, self-made man.

“The hole he will leave in his businesses is irrelevant compared to the hole he will leave in the lives of his family, so we’re thinking of them.

“He was just getting the bit between his teeth on the racing front and enjoying it. It’s just all happened so quickly, it’s quite surreal.”

Andrew Balding trains the majority of the King Power string, with Beat The Bank the most successful as a multiple winner at Group Two level.

The Balding-trained Morando dead-heated in a Group Three at Newbury on Saturday, while Happy Power also carried the King Power colours to victory at Doncaster.

Oisin Murphy has ridden for King Power more than any other jockey and took to Twitter to pay his own tribute, saying: “Thoughts and prayers with Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and his family. Gentleman.”

Leicester hosted a meeting on Monday, where Balding had declared two King Power runners but both were taken out as a mark of respect.

A minutes silence was held before the first race.

Clerk of the course Jimmy Stevenson said Srivaddhanaprabha was a regular visitor to the track.

“He used to come here with his entourage and was a very private person, he kept himself to himself. He just loved being at the races, he was passionate about it,” he said.

“It’s a sad time for Leicester, he engrossed the city, the fans loved him, he wasn’t just a chairman who put his money in. Some chairman don’t go to matches, but he was right in amongst it – they loved him.”

The British Horseracing Authority’s chief executive Nick Rust described Saturday’s events as a “tragedy”.

He said: “The death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is a tragedy for the world of sport and horseracing.

“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 livelihoods of many people working in our industry.”

Police said the other four people were believed to be two of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

Srivaddhanaprabha, who became chairman of Leicester in 2011, is known for arriving and leaving the stadium in his helicopter at home games.

He was very highly thought of in the city after he bought the Foxes for £39 million in 2010, and became chairman the following February.

The 60-year-old’s influence in Leicester extended beyond his football club, and his charity work included a £2million donation to a new children’s hospital.

Richard Hannon leads tributes to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
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