Day At The Track

Industry loses elder statesman Graeme Lang

04:44 PM 18 May 2020 NZST
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Graeme Lang
Graeme Lang

Australian harness racing has lost one of the sport's most successful trainers and influential figures, Graeme Lang.

87-year-old Lang had struggled with health issues since late last year, and passed away this morning, less than a month after his son Gavin lost a battle with cancer.

Gavin Lang's death brought to an end one of the most successful harness racing father-and-son combinations in the sport, as both had been inducted as Legends of the sport's exclusive Caduceaus Club.

In more than 60 years in the sport, Graeme Lang trained 12,395 starters, had 1822 career wins for $10.5 million in stakes.

The Wimmera-born son of a farmer and hobby trainer, Graeme Lang was the complete horseman. Preparing his first winner in the 1950s, Graeme Lang went on to become a five-time leading Victorian state trainer and two-time leading Victorian state driver. He was crowned the leading Australian driver in 1979/80 and secured a swag of major awards in the sport through the late 1960s, 70s and 80s.

A wily trainer, a skilful driver and an astute farrier, Lang's affinity with the equine cleared the way for an unforgettable ride with talented but erratic square-gaiter Scotch Notch (Scottish Bret-Ada Glenfern (Tarport Kid) in harness racing's golden era in the 1980s.

Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch

Lang, trained and drove Scotch Notch for most of her career, but it was his fastidious preparation that put the polish on the trotter, who went on to become a Hall-of-Famer.

Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang – an unforgettable ride

He rated her as "the best squaregaiter produced in Australasia" and few would argue. The dual Inter Dominion champion won 43 races in Australia, four in New Zealand, and a further 18 in a much-anticipated United States campaign. Her resume included five Group Ones for earnings of $670,000.

Graeme Lang's love of the sport was passed on to his sons, Gavin and Chris - Chris, as a squaregaiting trainer and driver is unparalleled while the late Gavin Lang was superior to any driver before him in the cart.

Known in the sport as "Daddy" Lang, Graeme observed last year that his sons' talents didn't come as a surprise.

"Gavin and Chris drive extremely well because they are extremely good horsemen, and why shouldn't they be?" Graeme said.

"I remember my mother going crook at me because I would let them drive fast work at home when they were seven or eight years old. Both of them had a lot of experience early on. It is very rare that horses don't do their best for them. They drive the race to suit the horse to start with, and they know when a horse is doing his best and when he's not."

The grand-master of harness racing was presented with the Gordon Rothacker Medal on a memorable night at Tabcorp Park Melton in 2013.

Lang had a massive influence on the sport for many years and still held a trainer's licence, and competed up until September last year. His last win was, appropriately, a Group race, with square gaiter Save Our Pennys in the E B Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat in January last year.

E B Cochran Trotters Cup

Save Our Pennys had finished fourth in the Inter Dominion trotting final at Melton, only a few months earlier.

Farewell to one of the true champions of Harness Racing Graeme Lang. Harnesslink extends its condolences to the Lang family.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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