By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
Richard Yates was all things to all people at Hastings Racecourse.
If his presence was required on a Saturday afternoon in the pouring rain to hand out ballot forms on the tarmac, he would be there.
If duty called to host a VIP reception for the horsemen’s yacht cruise from the docks at Granville Island, he would be there.
His sudden passing on Friday, March 22, 2019 following a massive heart attack at his home in Abbotsford blindsided the racing industry.
At 74, he had been sharing with colleagues and comrades the previous weekend at a CTHS-BC horse sale how good he felt having hired a personal trainer prior to start of the 2019 thoroughbred season at Hastings.
Richard was an owner, breeder and trainer for almost three decades and served as secretary-treasurer for the Canadian and British Columbia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Associations.
He also somehow found time to help create and manage the introduction of Hastings Racing Clubs 1 & 2, the successful concept where racing fans were invited to invest $250 to become equal ownership partners in thoroughbreds that would be purchased on their behalf.
“Overseeing the two racing clubs was definitely a labour of love for Richard,” said Darren MacDonald, Regional Director, BC Racing. “People didn’t realize how much work he put into things. He served the industry with passion.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by so many.
David Milburn, dear friend and president of the local HBPA, said: “Richard was a true advocate, ambassador and friend to racing. We’ll need several people to do all the jobs he did for the industry.”
Glen Todd, horseman extraordinaire, was in his car when Milburn phoned with the shocking news.
“I had to pull over to collect my thoughts,” Todd said. “Richard was a genuine guy. He’ll be missed more than people can imagine.”
Track announcer Dan Jukich said: “Richard would take a stance on many industry related issues and always stuck by what he believed. His dry sense of humour was also a treat in stressful situations.”
That humour was never more evident than in his regular racing wrap-ups that appeared in The Derby Bar and Grill and HBPA newsletters. In the comfort of his home long after Hastings Racecourse had gone dark, Richard would review the races on video and put into artful words his version of that day’s action at track level.
“I love that part of my life, sharing my thoughts in the written word” he would say, never for a moment realizing how his legion of readers loved it with him.
Richard Yates was truly all things to all people.