A day after the euphoria of Michelle Payne’s historic Melbourne Cup win, Australian racing is in shock over the death of well-known jockey Tim Bell.
Riding in Singapore on a three-month contract, the 22-year-old died on Tuesday night in a non-racing related incident.
The Singapore Turf Club issued a statement saying there were unconfirmed reports the jockey had locked himself out of his unit and fell while trying to climb into the high-rise apartment.
Police are still investigating the circumstances of Bell’s death.
Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said Bell was a popular jockey and natural horseman.
“Tim’s sudden death has come as a great shock to the entire racing industry,” V’landys said.
“To lose someone so young and with such a gift for riding is simply tragic and devastating.
“We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Born in the NSW town of Narrabri, Bell started his career in Tamworth where he was apprenticed to Sue Grills.
He attracted the attention of trainers in Sydney and Brisbane and in 2011 moved to the Gold Coast to be the No.1 Queensland rider for Patinack Farm.
Bell was later sacked by Patinack for turning up late to trackwork several times but he got his career back on track as a freelance jockey and won the 2013-14 Brisbane jockeys’ premiership.
In the same season he claimed his first Group One win on Tinto in the Queensland Oaks.
Confident and ambitious, Bell wanted to ride against the best jockeys in the world and saw the opportunity in Singapore as a chance to gain valuable international experience and showcase his skills.
Singapore-based trainer Steve Burridge, who was instrumental in helping Bell ride overseas, said the jockey’s death was a tragedy.
“Timmy had the whole future ahead of him and not only could he ride, but he was also such a great young man and was very driven to become a very good jockey,” Burridge said.
Jim Byrne rode against Bell in Brisbane and said the young jockey was a character who had the world at his feet.
“He was just a real good kid. He had a heap of confidence in himself, he always wanted to be on the big stage and he was basically positioning himself all the way through his career to be on the big stage,” Byrne told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
“He was only just starting to shine and show what he could do.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au