Vale Gavin Lang
By Adam Hamilton
THERE really was only one Gavin Lang.
Harness racing lost of one of its greatest ever champions and a true legend when Lang’s battle with a rare form of lymphoma ended yesterday (Friday).
Young drivers wanted to be him, most were in awe of him and even his staunchest rivals had nothing but admiration for him.
Lang’s 6303 driving wins made him one of only two drivers in the southern hemisphere to top 6000 wins and second-only to former arch-rival and more recently great mate, Chris Alford.
Known by some as “Group 1 Gav” and others as “The Iceman”, Lang’s first win came aboard Pensive Dream at Kilmore on June 2, 1975.
Lang, who was 61, went on to win three Inter Dominion finals, all trotters, on True Roman (1988), Game Bid (2002) and Sumthingaboutmaori (2004). The second of those came for a then young-buck Kiwi trainer, Brent Lilley.
One of his biggest pacing wins was for close friend, trainer Peter Tonkin, with Robin Hood in the 2007 Victoria Cup.
Just last year, he was still winning feature races, doing so aboard four-year-old trotting mare Moonshine Linda in a Group 2 Breeders Crown final.
Top Victorian driver Greg Sugars summed-up the thoughts of so many drivers who followed in Lang’s footsteps when he tweeted: “Today I lost my idol. He is he greatest that there has ever been or ever will be. So glad to have been able to compete alongside you and even more importantly, I will be forever grateful I got to know you as a friend. Rest In Peace Great Man #Gav #Iceman #Group1”
Craig Demmler tweeted: “Words can’t explain the loss of a true champion who I looked up to as a kid! There will never be another Gavin Lang in my time and I’ve been lucky to have known him as my friend. #RIPGAV.”
Kerryn Manning tweeted: “What a sad day, a legend is gone, but will never be forgotten. You always told me to follow the best drivers in races if you ever held-up and they would get you out of trouble, never truer than when I followed you, you never failed to get a gap. #RIPGav #thebestever.”
Former top harness and then thoroughbred race caller Bryan Martin tweeted: “So very sad to hear of the passing of a great in Harness Racing, Gavin Lang. A giant of the sport, a lifetime in the game who rose to be an all-time great, so sadly missed. Condolences to his loving family.”
Lang’s passing is sure to cut as deep in NZ, where he had some many greats friends, as it has in Australia.
Harness Racing Victoria is fittingly deep in talks about re-naming one of its major races after Lang.
Lang is survived by his wife Meagan, daughters Danielle and Courtney and family.