Former jockey and colourful racing manager die
Singapore racing lost two figures on Sunday, with the passing of a former jockey and a colourful racing manager.
Malaysian BN Shahrul, 39, was found motionless in the toilet of his rented room in Bukit Panjang on Sunday night and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Police are investigating.
Edward Letchiman, who managed horses for Jupiter Stable, which is owned by oil traders Tang Weng Wei and Thomas Loke, died of cancer recurrence. He was 74.
A colleague, syce Ennie Irwanie, said Shahrul, who rode trackwork for trainer Leslie Khoo, had complained of chest pains and had seen a doctor the previous day.
She said that the rider's body would be flown back to his hometown in Ipoh for burial.
Shahrul, who began his riding career in 1996, rode a total of 195 winners. His last ride, Always A Winner, finished third at Kranji on Nov 23 last year.
His best season was in 2007 when he notched 31 winners.
His highlights were the 2007 Perak Derby on Fast Flying, the 2008 Tunku Gold Cup on Happy Victory and the Malaysian Magic Millions Classic on Time Speed the same year.
He came to ride in Singapore last year but was unsuccessful. His licence was not renewed this year and he became a track rider for Khoo.
Letchiman, or Ed as he was affectionately known in local racing circles, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and was given only a few months to live but he won the battle against the disease.
His wife Rita said yesterday that his health deteriorated after he had a mild stroke of the brain in April last year. He had a second stroke recently and his cancer recurred.
In May 2010, The New Paper ran an article on Ed and one of Jupiter's horses, As Good As It Gets, as both cheated death and enjoyed success.
While Ed recovered from cancer, the horse survived a castration that left its intestines on the floor and then tendonitis, a career-ending leg disease, to win two straight races.
As Good As It Gets was initially aptly-named named Don't Give Up, to spur Ed in his fight against cancer.
Ed, who migrated to England when he was young and held a British passport, managed a good team and was associated with many top horses with Jupiter, one of the leading owners in Singapore. Among the stable's champions were Better Than Ever and Mexican Rose.
"Ed has been more than my racing manager. He's a loyal friend, my morning coffee kaki that never fails to make me laugh with his stories. I'm going to miss him. Rest in peace, Ed," said Tang in an SMS.
Steven Burridge, who trained As Good As It Gets, said he last saw Ed three months ago, when he brought him out for dinner at the British Club.
Said the Australian: "He was more than a friend. We always had a good laugh, be it all times.
"He always told a great story from the old times. He was a good bloke, happy go lucky and great to be around to have a drink with.
"He was a good supporter of mine. I will miss him."
A good friend, Ed was well liked and he gave me many tip-offs and stories. I enjoyed his story-telling, too.
I was supposed to visit him last Wednesday after learning that he was unwell but I postponed it to today. It was too late.
Adios, my good friend, may your soul rest in peace.
His wake is at the void deck of Block 405, Admiralty Link.
The cortege will leave for Mandai Crematorium at 2.30pm tomorrow.