If you are fortunate in life, you meet that person who is humble, genuine, passionate and a great friend to guide you on your journey and help you achieve your dreams.
Deane Lester, a respected industry form analyst, as well as a mentor for Jye McNeil, passed away on Thursday after a short battle with cancer; he was 54.
Lester was instrumental in booking Jye McNeil for his 2020 Melbourne Cup win aboard Twilight Payment due to being a close friend of Lloyd Williams (trainer).
Jye was lying low from chasing media on Friday. McNeil raced at the Lightning Stakes held at Flemington on Saturday, still raw with emotion from the passing. In a perfect ride, McNeil piloted four-year-old mare ‘So You See’ to a win by a length over 1600 metres in race one.
Jye held his composure in a post-race interview until a personalised question about the passing of Lester changed his demeanour. After a deep breath to provide an answer, the emotion got away from McNeil, demonstrating respect and gratitude for the late Deane Lester.
The 28-year-old nearly became speechless. Jye was able to tell the media that he was wearing specialised embroidered socks with the initials DL for the day, while trying to hold back tears.
“He’s going to be riding with me in every race today,” said an emotional McNeil. Fortunately, Jye McNeil had his parents trackside for extra support on what was an extremely difficult day.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 23 February 2023.