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Tributes paid to former Newmarket apprentice jockey Stefano Cherchi who died after race fall in Australia

Tributes have been paid to a former Newmarket apprentice jockey who has died in Australia two weeks after being seriously injured in a race fall.

Twenty-three-year-old Stefano Cherchi had been in intensive care with a serious head injury sustained when his mount, Hasime, fell in the Affinity Electrical Technologies Plate at Canberra on March 20 .

Two other riders escaped serious injury after being unseated in the incident.

A spokesman for the New South Wales Jockeys’ Association said: “The family are very grateful for the love, prayers and messages sent by the racing community across the world.”

Stefano, who was an apprentice to Newmarket trainer Marco Botti, rode more than 100 winners in Britain before relocating to Australia at the start of the year.

On his last race before his fatal fall he had ridden a winner on 60-1 outsider Flying Bat, cementing his reputation as one of Australia’s up-and-coming young riders.

Mr Botti said: “It’s just devastating news for all of us. We knew it was a bad fall and we knew things didn’t look great, but you live in hope and hope for a miracle. Hopefully he’s going to a better place and we will never forget him he will always be with us.”

Among his former weighing room colleagues in Britain who had rallied around the Sardinian-born jockey since the incident was leading rider Cieren Fallon, whose sister, Brittany, was Stefano’s partner and had been at his bedside in Australia.

Stefano had made his riding debut in August 2018 and rode his first winner the following April aboard the Botti-trained Without-destination at Wolverhampton.

Paul Clarke, his agent when he first came to Newmarket from Italy in 2018, said: “I booked his first winner which was at Wolverhampton the following year.

“He was a thoroughly lovely lad with a nice smile and lovely personality.”

And town trainer Chris Dwyer, who had been a big supporter of Stefano in recent years during which time his wife Shelley was his agent, said: “I was very sad to hear about Stefano.

“He rode me a few winners including the filly Horse Whisperer who funnily enough won only yesterday (Tuesday), and I’m sure Stefano would have been delighted to see her win. He was a very honest lad and it’s heart breaking.

“Shelley was his agent for a while and he was very obliging and if you asked him to be anywhere at all he would be there bang on time.”