Australian racing has lost one of its finest servants following the sudden passing of Hall of Fame jockey Geoff Lane.
Earlier today, Lane, 80, died of kidney failure on the Gold Coast. He is survived by his wife, Joanni, and children, Sam, Samantha and Natasha.
In 2013, Lane was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame after a decorated career spanning almost seven decades.
Having ridden more than 700 winners including the 1961 Cox Plate aboard Dhaulagiri, Lane later enjoyed stints as an administrator, trainer and steward.
His other big race wins included three Victoria Derbies, three VRC Oaks and three VRC St Legers, along with the AJC Oaks, the Caulfield Guineas, two Toorak Handicaps, three Caulfield Stakes and four Memsie Stakes.
The wins in the Memsie Stakes, in particular, were a personal highlight as he partnered Lord to victory on each occasion from 1958 to 1961, as were his three wins in the Darwin Cup.
“Dad didn’t even know how to ride a horse,” Sam Lane fondly remembered this afternoon.
“But he made a success out of doing it after starting from scratch.
“He was a well liked and highly respected individual amongst the racing fraternity – he never forgot a name in racing – and after returning from Hong Kong he was able to continue his passion thanks to the Gold Coast Turf Club.
“It didn’t matter whether it was Sha Tin, the Gold Coast or Beaudesert, he just loved being involved.”
Having been raised in Melbourne, Lane began his apprenticeship in 1953 with Tommy Woodcock, a Hall of Fame member who strapped the great Phar Lap before becoming a leading trainer in his own right.
Upon doing so, he guided Morning Patrol to victory in his first start as a trainer in Hong Kong.
Chairman of the Australian Jockeys Association, Des O’Keeffe, was among those to pay tribute to Lane.
“Australia’s jockeys, past and present, are deeply saddened at the passing of a much loved and iconic Hall of Fame jockey in Geoff Lane,” O’Keeffe said.
“The legacy Geoff Lane has left is extraordinary and to Joanni, Sam, Samantha and Natasha, we express our deepest condolences at this very sad time.”
While Lane will be remembered for his incredible contribution to the racing industry, he was also a senior member of the Carbine Club and was an inaugural member of the Vingt Cinq Club.
Most of all, however, Lane will be remembered as a loving and loyal family man, having spent the past 60 years alongside Joanni including 52 as husband and wife.
“Geoff Lane was a real flagbearer for the Australian racing industry in South East Asia,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said.
“While many people will remember him for his time in the saddle, it extends well beyond that as an administrator, trainer and steward and he will be sorely missed.”
Racing Queensland extends its condolences to the Lane family following his passing today.