Graeme Lang Obituary
By Michael Guerin, Adam Hamilton
Australasian harness racing has lost its second legendary horseman in a matter of weeks with the passing of Graeme Lang.
It comes as the Lang family and broader industry is still mourning the loss of Graeme’s 61-year-old son, Gavin, who died of a rare form of lymphoma last month.
Graeme was 87 was widely and affectionally known as “Daddy Lang”. He died peacefully this morning at a hospital in Melbourne.
As great as Lang’s career achievements were, the greatest legacy he leaves is the family dynasty he started through sons Gavin and Chris and onto grandson, Chris Jr.
“It is obviously a sad time for us, especially with Dad passing so quickly after my brother,” Chris Lang told HRNZ.
“He had a stroke about 10 weeks ago and that really knocked him but as sad as we are to lose a legend, he was a man who lived his life his way and had a great life.”
The Lang name is as synonymous to harness racing as sulkies and score-ups.
Graeme, born on February 6, 1933, drove his first winner aboard Vindason at Horsham on May 1, 1954 and went on to snare five Victorian training premierships, two Victorian driving titles and an Australian driving premiership.
Of all the great horses he trained, the former champion trotting mare and dual Inter Dominion winner of the 1980s, Scotch Notch, was the standout.
Her battles with the NZ trotting hero of the mid 1980s in Sir Castleton still thrill fans of the straight out trotter as they battled in Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne and Adelaide in a golden era for the gait as Basil Dean was also at his brilliant best.
Lang brought Scotch Notch to Alexandra Park to win an Inter Dominion and Rowe Cup and won the latter with Wagon Apoollo, making him one of the most successful visiting trainers of trotters to New Zealand.
Lang loved New Zealand, having huge respect for the skills of horse people here and he loved the horse country.
His other superstars included Table Card and Crystal Sunset.
Although renowned for his genius with trotters, Lang also put the polish on some mighty pacers, including New Zealand’s 1997 Victoria Cup winner Desperate Comment, who he drove to victory in that race for Cran Dalgety.
Lang also had a brief but successful stint training powerhouse Kiwi stayer Franco Ice in the early 1990s.
Records showed he trained 1856 winners and snared 1372 wins as a driver.
Lang is survived by his wife, Dot, who was such an integral part of his success, and broader family.