Less than a day after Michelle Payne struck a blow for female jockeys by winning the Melbourne Cup, fellow riders were rocked by the news leading young Queensland jockey Tim Bell had died in a non-racing related incident in Singapore.
The 22-year-old, who moved to Singapore last month to take up a three-month riding contract, reportedly died after falling from the balcony of his 12th storey apartment on Tuesday night.
He rode 651 winners in his short career, getting short-priced favourite Lim's Bullet home in his final ride at Kranji Racecourse on Sunday night.
Top Queensland jockey Damien Browne said he had been in disbelief when told of the tragedy.
"I just didn't believe it. He was a good friend, it's very sad," Browne said.
"He was a true professional - he had the world at his feet.
"He was definitely going to go on to bigger and better things."
Bell started riding at Tamworth in country New South Wales, and at just 16 confirmed his potential by booting home four winners at Doomben, the youngest rider to achieve the feat in Brisbane.
He went on to take out the Brisbane Jockeys' Premiership in the 2013-14 season with 135 winners, before being runner-up last season.
Browne said not only was Bell a great young rider, he was also a great bloke.
"You couldn't have met a nicer guy," Browne said.
"He would have given you the shirt off his back.
"He loved to have a joke, but he was always the first one on the phone with a message of congratulations after you rode a Group One winner."
Bell captured his first Group One victory on Tinto in the Queensland Oaks in May 2014.
He had added one Group race in Singapore to his list of major successes, riding Sebrose to victory in the Group Three El Dorado Classic (2200m) late last month.
Queensland Jockeys Association president Glen Prentice said Bell had taken up the contract in Singapore because he wanted to be the best.
"He has always wanted to reach the top and he wanted to travel overseas," Prentice said.
"He felt like he'd achieved a lot in Brisbane and wanted to expand his horizons, get some international experience, to achieve goals and win Melbourne Cups and be regarded in the top bracket of riders - not only in the country but all around the world."
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