The horse racing community was bracing for it. But that didn’t make it any easier. Highly respected expert, Deane Lester, has passed away.
Lester was a much-loved figure within the industry, and tears were already forming when news recently broke that he was locked in a battle with an aggressive cancer.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Channel 7’s tribute video to Deane Lester.
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He died overnight at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, aged 54, with his family by his side.
The industry right across Australia – many from Channel 7 – fell into deep mourning when it was confirmed that Lester was gone.
RSN (a racing and sport radio station) issued a statement last night, at around 11pm, confirming that Lester had died peacefully.
The news sparked an immediate outpouring of emotion.
“It is with great sadness we inform you of the passing of our much-loved friend and colleague Deane Lester,” the statement read.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Deane’s mother Sandra and his partner Leanne.”
Lester had battled through health issues all his life.
He was born with spina bifida (a birth defect that effects the spine) and, from 2002, he used a mobility scooter to get around.
“Despite this, Deane never complained, moving forward with courage and dignity,” the statement read.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just last month.
A ‘Go Fund Me’ page to assist Deane with medical expenses and other needs has raised more than $290,000.
Channel 7 recently made a tribute video for Lester in which legendary broadcaster Bruce McAvaney spoke fondly of his colleague.
“What about that humour and that ability to go with the question and almost know what you want- that rhythm and that tone, that authenticity, that moment when he says ‘Flemington Race 5 The Turnbull stakes and my numbers are … we’ll give you those later,’ and that wisdom,” McAvaney said.
“If I could collect a couple of people and talk racing for an hour, and look them in the eye and just enjoy – Deano would be there, boy I’d love to do that – I hope I do.
“And then finally that trust, we just trust him don’t we, we absolutely do.”
Fourth generation jockey and Channel 7 horse racing reporter Katelyn Mallyon said everyone loved Lester.
“He’s so popular, everyone loves Deano, and I think everyone’s just drawn to listening to him whether it be on radio, or Channel 7,” she said.
“He’s just so incredibly talented at reading a race but more importantly, reading a jockey’s mind.
“We’re going to fight with you Deano and we love you to bits.”
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