The Sapphire Coast Turf Club is losing its main “architect” and life member, Ray Lane, to the lure of the Gold Coast this week.
Ray and his wife Bev are moving north on Friday, but they leave behind a well-respected legacy and a lifetime’s work on the region’s premier equestrian facility.
“Ray is an inspiration and one of the most committed people I know to the Sapphire Coast Turf Club and to have him, and his lovely wife Bev, move to the Gold Coast will be a true loss to this area,” turf club president Robyn Bain said.
“There is hardly a day that goes by without Ray turning up to the club to ‘do something’, whether that be assist with the design of the new stables, fill in some pot holes on the road, pass over knowledge of where the pipes or electrical wires are, or to be there for moral support.”
Mr Lane was president of the Bega Jockey Club in the 1970s and instrumental in its amalgamation with the Imlay club to secure a future for racing in the area.
“In 1979 we flew over the whole shire looking for a suitable site for a new race track,” Mr Lane said.
Then began 20 years of planning and building before the Sapphire Coast Turf Club officially opened in February 1999. Mr Lane said he was into everything – investigating and planning, petitioning government bodies for funding.
And he could not be prouder of the result – “It’s his baby,” Ms Lane chips in.
“I can’t get this place better than it already is,” he said this week.
“It’s known as the best country race track in NSW, and that’s not just me talking.
“I’ve been saying I’m giving it away for the past 10 years, but they won’t let me. I figured to give it away, I needed to move away – but they still have my number!”
As their move came a little sooner than expected, an official send-off for the Lanes is planned for the Bega Cup meet in February, for which they are keen to return.
“Ray has devoted his life not only to Sapphire but also the Bega Jockey Club and we know there will be a lot of racing people in the region who wish them well, and will want to say goodbye and good luck at their send off,” Ms Bain said.