THE HORSE WHISPERER
Kyan Yap, Racing Manager of Raffles Racing
For as long as he can remember, Kyan Yap has always been fascinated by animals. As a child, one could find the young chap glued to the television whenever a wildlife documentary was on. Soon, he found himself when his father, Dato’ Yap Kim San, started racing horses in the 1980s. Gleefully tagging along, he would visit the stables and attend races, fascinated by the horses’ behaviour, physiology and powerful movements.
While the young boy dreamt of being a zoologist or a marine biologist, his love for animals found another way to manifest itself when his father and associates took over the operations of Saigon Racecourse in Vietnam back in 2005. “During the opening of the Saigon Racing Club, dad asked me to pick a horse from his stable and kindly gave him to me as a gift. That horse became my first racehorse and my first winner too!” recalls Yap. The stallion, Sacred Falls, won the Group 1 Doncaster Mile in Australia and Yap was overjoyed. “It was a very special moment because I was there when we selected and bought the horse. To see him grow and winning at the top level in the world’s richest mile race was immensely rewarding and validating. Furthermore, he was the dark horse in that race and defeated an unbeaten champion. My whole family was with me that day and, I can honestly say, it was amazing to celebrate the win with them by my side.”
Shortly after acquiring Sacred Falls, the father-son duo purchased Raffles Farm in Cambridge, New Zealand. As he started getting more involved in the breeding and racing operation internationally, Yap knew he was on the right path and, together with his father, started Raffles Racing. “I still wanted to be close to animals regularly and, thus, when the opportunity of being involved with such a majestic animal came along, I immediately jumped on board. Besides, I loved how it became a sport that my family and I can enjoy together.”
While the sport proved to be a fantastic opportunity to create special memories with friends and family, Yap finds this passion bolstering his professional circle as well. “Being an active participant in a sport that attracts elites and successful individuals has provided me with a platform to meet and network. This has led to many business opportunities outside of the world of horse racing. Conversely, sharing a similar passion in this sport of kings has also allowed me to race horses in partnership with top business tycoons, aristocrats and royalty, which broadened my life experiences both personally and professionally.”
It’s not all a field of roses though. “This is a sport that can give you the highest high one day and bring you to the lowest low on another. Therefore, I hold this advice dear to heart – win with humility and lose with grace,” explains Yap. “Once you are able to master this, you will not only enjoy the wins but also the process as well, and this is something that is applicable to all facets of life.”