Industry in mourning over death of Shane Yates

Friday 29 May 2020

Tasmania’s racing industry is in mourning over the death of popular race caller Shane Yates who lost his battle with cancer this week.

Yates, 60, passed away peacefully at home in Devonport on Thursday with family and close friends by his side.

Up until 10 months ago when he was first diagnosed with his illness, Yates was a major contributor to Tasracing’s industry website with his stories on greyhounds and harness racing ensuring the site grew in usage and popularity.

Tributes have today flowed from all over Australia for the man who was affectionately known as “Yatesey”.

From a young age his main ambition in life was to become a successful race caller in Tasmania and he definitely achieved that goal in spades.

It wasn’t until 2012 that he landed a full-time role as a race caller with RadioTAB and in the years leading up to that appointment he also commentated on other sports for radio and television, including football, basketball and athletics.

Yates earned a reputation for his accuracy and the way he editorialised his race calls set him apart from most in the profession, which is why he survived for well over 40 years.

If you were listening to a Shane Yates race call on the radio he painted the pictures with his words so that punters could visualise where their horses were in the run and that’s the key ingredient of a top-class caller.

Fellow Tasmanian race caller Colin McNiff, who was one of Yates’ best mates, has fond memories of the man.

“What I liked most about Shane was his loyalty to people and projects in which he became involved and he was definitely a team player,” McNiff said.

“He also was a great story teller and a quick phone call from Shane would go for at least 20 minutes and his humour would always brighten up the dullest of days.”

Yates was a devotee of his beloved Devonport Football Club that he became associated with as a player in his teens and later as an administrator.

He took on the role of president of the DFC in 2010 when the club faced a financial crisis that threatened its existence in the Statewide Football League and he managed to help guide the club back onto a solid footing.

Yates was a family man and he is survived by his daughters Layla and Montanna, his mother Zita and brothers Gary and Dean.

A private funeral service is expected with a memorial service to be held at a later date owing to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.