Death of Leicester City owner in helicopter horror stuns West Sussex sporting community

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with his King Power Foxes polo team at Cowdray Park / Picture by Clive Bennett
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with his King Power Foxes polo team at Cowdray Park / Picture by Clive Bennett

The tragic death of Leicester City FC owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash has stunned staff and players connected with Cowdray Park Polo Club - where he was a regular visitor and a major sponsor.

The helicopter came down on Saturday evening after taking off from the Leicester pitch following their Premier League game with West Ham.

Witnesses said they saw it just clear the stadium before it spiralled out of control and crashed, exploding into flames.

Five people, including Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, were on board and all five died, the football club confirmed on Sunday night.

King Power have been a huge force in UK polo, with a King Power high-goal team entering the Gold Cup for the British Open at Cowdray Park each year from 2014 and winning it in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2018 King Power took on title sponsorship of the prestigious Gold Cup.

A statement from Cowdray Park said: "Cowdray Park Polo Club is devastated to hear that the death has been confirmed of King Power Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha following a helicopter crash just outside the King Power FC Stadium on Saturday 27th October following a League match against West Ham.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's star horse Beat The Bank wins the Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August this year / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's star horse Beat The Bank wins the Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August this year / Picture by Malcolm Wells

"Cowdray Park Polo Club’s President, Chairman, Committee and members join in sending their sincere condolences to the Srivvadhanaprabha family. The King Power Foxes polo team won the Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship in 20015, 2016 and 2017."

An investigation into the helicopter crash is being led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, who was 60, had also been an emerging force in British horse-racing, and had enjoyed a handful of Group victories in the last two seasons after big investment in the sport.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha raced horses under King Power Racing Co Ltd, named after the duty-free shopping empire through which he made his £2bn fortune, the Racing Post reported on Sunday.

King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with members of his 2017 King Power Polo team / Picture by Mark Beaumont

King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with members of his 2017 King Power Polo team / Picture by Mark Beaumont

The best was multiple Group winner Beat The Bank, who had two big wins at Goodwood - one at the 2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival and another in the 2018 Celebration Mile. Beat The Banks's trainer Andrew Balding has most of the owner's horses, while Ralph Beckett and Richard Hannon, among others, have others.

The Balding-trained Morando carried Srivaddhanaprabha's blue and white silks when sharing first place with Young Rascal in the St Simon Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

King Power Foxes win Gold Cup at Cowdray Park