By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport


Vancouver, BC (Dec. 11/19) – Vancouver’s thoroughbred racing community has lost two popular Hastings Racecourse personalities within the last week with the passing of Kathy O’Connell and Sohen Gill.

Kathy was predeceased by her husband Sonny O’Connell, a member of the BC Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the trainers’ category.  The friendships Kathy established covered all levels at the track. In recent years, following her retirement from greeting fans at the Guest Services counter, there would be loud and loving cheers each time she arrived in the winner’s circle to join son Brian, a dedicated trainer who continues to carry on the O’Connell racing tradition.

Kathy passed away peacefully on December 4 after a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 80.

Prayers will be offered Thursday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Kearney Burnaby Chapel and a Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, December 13 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church at 10 a.m.

Sohen Gill, a staunch supporter of the racing industry for as long as anyone can remember, passed at age 78 on December 6 after a legendary lacrosse career in British Columbia as a player, coach, manager, Western Lacrosse Association commissioner and B.C. Lacrosse Association president.

Gill was named winner of the Tom Gordon ‘Mr. Lacrosse’ Award three times and was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2009 he was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in the Builder category, the same year as Hastings jockey Chris Loseth and long-time racing journalist Archie McDonald.

Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, tweeted the following: “Sohen and I shared a unique bond.  I interviewed him prior to his 2009 induction after he had come directly from a doctor’s appointment where he was told his kidneys were failing and he had just months to live unless he received a transplant.  He discussed hkis life and career with an openness that was startling.

“And the end of our talk, we parted not really knowing what would happen next.  Thankfully, he received a transplant from his son Chris and those precious months turned into another decade.”

Chris today is head coach of the Vancouver Warriors following his own illustrious career in lacrosse.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Sohen Gill on Wednesday, December 18 at the Burnaby Firefighters Hall at 1 p.m.