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    GAVIN LANG: A tribute from John Dunne GAVIN LANG: A tribute from John Dunne

    Gavin Lang with Robin Hood after their Victoria Cup win in 2007

    A COUPLE of years ago I shared breakfast with Gavin Lang and his wife Meagan at their favorite café in Bacchus Marsh. A week... GAVIN LANG: A tribute from John Dunne
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    A COUPLE of years ago I shared breakfast with Gavin Lang and his wife Meagan at their favorite café in Bacchus Marsh.

    A week earlier the master reinsman had become only the second driver in the Southern Hemisphere to chalk up 6000 wins in the sulky.

    I asked the 59- year- old Lang how long he would keep pursuing his craft like none other who had gone before him.

    “I’ll know when it’s time to go- I won’t need to be told,” Lang replied.

    Sadly, Lang had no say in when he would ultimately undo the straps on his helmet for the final time.

    In September last year Lang was diagnosed with a rare form of Lymphoma and the harness racing family collectively began praying he would find the winning post with his normal impeccable judgement in fighting the disease.

    For the first time in his life, Lang was unable to find the line and following extensive bouts of chemotherapy a champion on and off the track lost his battle on Friday.

    Countless tributes posted on social media in the past 24 hours have been punctuated by a myriad of ‘Gavin stories’.

    One of my favorites dates back to the early 1990s when I was invited by Gavin and his good mate Mark Shelly to accompany them on a sojourn up the Western Highway to attend a race meeting at the old Horsham Showgrounds.

    I sat in the grandstand that night and watched Gavin put on a clinic for those local harness racing fans who braved the chilly winter’s night.

    Gavin bagged four winners and from memory none of them led around the tight 700 metre circuit.

    In one particular race Gavin found himself four back along the rails turning into the back straight on the final occasion.

    Somehow he weaved a passage ducking both left and right finding gaps that seemingly didn’t exist, finding clear air just in time to salute as the winning post arrived.

    I recall being surprised that none of the chat on the way home alluded to Gavin’s quartet of wins, instead the travelers were washed down with talk of footy and trots interspersed with Gavin’s innate knowledge of the sport.

    During breakfast Gavin modestly deflected the inference that his considerable success was his inherent ability to steer a horse better than most.

    “There have been a lot of other drivers who could do it every bit as well as myself but they simply haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had,” he said.

    He also hinted his involvement in harness racing post driving could include an official role mentoring young drivers.

    “The gallops do it well teaching young jockeys on the way through their apprenticeships,” he said.

    “The industry has been good to me; I owe everything to it.”

    Of all the fine accolades posted on social media, a tweet from former harness racing journalist Peter Berry, who has lived in the U.S for the past 30 years, afforded Gavin the ultimate praise.

    ‘For those of you in North America unfamiliar with Gavin Lang, think John Campbell, Herve Filion and Stanley Dancer rolled into one’

    Gavin’s penchant for being an active participant on the Karaoke stage is widely acknowledged among the industry.

    Humility would prevent the softly-spoken Gavin from grabbing the microphone and belting out his signature song.

    But the harness racing family on both sides of the Tasman can now join in one voice with Tina Turner.

    Gavin Lang – ‘Simply The Best’.

    John Dunne

    • Neil.Moriarty

      April 28, 2020 #1 Author

      I have been a trots punter since 1962 at the Melbourne showgrounds.Gordon Rothacker and George Gath were as good as any in that era.Gavin and Chris have been top of the pile for the last
      3 decades.RIP Gavin.

      Reply

    • leigh swift

      April 28, 2020 #2 Author

      To the Lang family condolences on the sad loss of Gavin thanks for the wonderful memories Steve and Carol (Deanna Troy) memories forever

      Reply

    • Darren

      April 28, 2020 #3 Author

      I’ve been watching all the video clips of Gavin on the net that I can
      And whats really hitting home is that Gav was truly our sport of harness racings greatest ambassador.
      In the equine world there are many different types of horses that do a vast array of pursuits and tons of humans that are involved with them
      The aspect of harness racing that is unique to itself is that unlike the horse sports where the horses are ridden our sport the horses are driven.
      So really riders are like a motorbike rider as they ride them whereas in the trots the horses are driven akin to a race car driver.
      So two distinctly different ways of operating the horses
      In the riding world each sport has many great champion riders
      In the driving world there are a handful of champion drivers
      And Gavin Lang without a shadow of doubt is in this category and he has been since the night he won the Australian pacing championship at moonee valley on Another Bart
      Since then he just week in and week out did the most extraordinary feats of reinsmanship that became the norm for him
      Harness racing is a magnificent sport and all industry participants have held Gavin in the highest regard and his passing will leave a huge void.
      yet his legacy will live on
      as I’m sure all harness racing participants will have to all raise the bar as we are without our kingpin and to keep trotting going into the future we all need to be inspired by the leadership and love of the sport that Gavin had and the respect Gavin had for the standardbred itself was I feel the key to Gavin’s success
      I’ve never seen a greater sportsman in any sport
      And Gavin can rest easy knowing that as a whole
      Gavin earnt the title of champion reinsman
      Of his sport in Australia and that is a remarkable achievement
      no matter what sport one talks about Gavin can be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest of them as he was the closest thing to perfection that you would ever see

      Nothing but respect and love
      Dj fair
      (Lifelong fan of genius Lang)
      My heart goes out to everyone that also shared my feelings of awe as I’m sure we are all teared up and sad at this great loss yet proud to have witnessed his driving magic that will remain in our memories for life

      Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s already caught up with vinny and they havin a beer talking about the trots
      😇
      ❤️

      Reply

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