Deane Lester, 54, a revered industry figure in Australian racing, has passed away.
He died peacefully on Thursday night, surrounded by his family, after a brief battle with cancer. Deane was one of the most respected and astute students in the racing game.
He was known as the voice of racing for many in Australia, was one of the sharpest tipsters in history and had a huge personality that made him loved by many.
Deane’s partner Leanne said he was suffering agonising pain in his stomach on Saturday to the point where he couldn’t even move to call an ambulance.
She called for help and as he was being wheeled to the ambulance he told his partner that he loved her.
‘I had no idea that was the last time I would speak to him,’ she said through tears on the Breakfast with Harf podcast.
‘As big as his heart was – and we all know how big that was – he just couldn’t fight any longer.
Deane Lester was well known and much loved in the racing community and tributes are flowing in
In response to the news, RSN Racing & Sport issued a statement paying tribute to ‘a much-loved friend and colleague’.
‘It is with great sadness we inform you of the passing of our much-loved friend and colleague Deane Lester,’ the statement read.
‘On behalf of the RSN Racing and Sport board and staff, we extend our deepest condolences to Deane’s mother Sandra and his partner Leanne.
‘As you may be aware, ‘Deano’ has experienced health issues throughout his entire life. He was born with Spina Bifida and from 2002 was aided by a mobility scooter.
Lester had health issues throughout his life and required a mobility scooter to get around toward the end
‘Despite this, Deane never complained, moving forward with courage and dignity. There was work to be done, winners to be found.
‘Just last month, Deane received the devastating news that he would be facing the biggest battle of his life, a rare form of cancer.
‘Sadly, this was a mountain too big to climb and after a short, but very brave fight, Deane passed away peacefully at the Alfred Hospital on Thursday (February 16) at 54.’
Racing commentator Jenny Chapman said: ‘We have very fond memories of Deane over many, many years. A great and passionate racing person and brilliant judge.’
‘Gone too soon and sadly missed. A proper racing legend.’ she wrote.
‘Rest In Peace Deane.’
Retired racecaller Bryan Martin described Deane as an ‘amazing man’.
‘Deano brought so much to so many in racing,’ he wrote.
‘His friendship will be sadly missed along with his wonderful knowledge. A very sad time. We acknowledge a true champion.’
Lester was described as ‘a legend of Cranbourne Turf Club’ and tributes are flowing in from turf and racing clubs across the country
Rebecca Maddern and Hamish McLachlan speak during the 2022 Brownlow Medal. McLachlan was a close friend of Lester and said ‘his cup overflowed’
Media personality and close friend Hamish McLachlan also paid tribute to Lester on the Breakfast with Harf podcast.
‘God he was dealt some tough cards, but geez he played them so well,’ he said.
‘You think about it, spina bifida early on, then the kidney failure.
‘Every time I was in the car and I had a minimum of 15 minutes, I would ring him. And I was amazed at how often he was on the dialysis machine.
‘We worked it out, he had been on the dialysis machine since early on this century, five days a week, five hours a time.
‘He would never complain about that.
Lester always had time to talk about almost any subject and is regarded as an enormous loss to the industry and as a valued friend and family member
‘The last time he was really out in public was March 2019 at the Australian Cup.
‘We complained about Covid, he has been in his room or in a hospital bed largely since then.
‘The extraordinary part was that he never complained, his glass overflowed.’
Cranbourne Racing Club also paid tribute on Lester’s Gofundme page, which raised almost $300,000 for the racing icon.
‘Deane is a Cranbourne racing icon. The racing community is indebted to him for his contribution to our great game over many years. Deane’s been an inspiration, sounding board, oracle and more to punters and broader racing folk,’ the club wrote.
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