Sports

Jockey dies aged 26 after losing short battle against ‘aggressive’ cancer

Apprentice rider Yong Chew was diagnosed with throat cancer. He had five wins on his record from 83 races. Friends have been paying tribute to the young sportsman

Yong Chew competed in 83 races

Tributes have been paid to a young jockey who has died after a short battle with an ‘aggressive’ cancer.

Yong Chew passed away just six months after his diagnosis, at the age of 26.

Known as Chewy to friends, the New Zealand-based apprentice rider had treatment for throat cancer.

Colleagues in the racing industry raised funds to cover the return to his homeland so Chew, the winner of five races, could spend his last days with family in Malaysia.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s South Island Riding Master David Walsh gave a fond tribute to the sportsman.

“He was a lovely, young fella and he was always the first to come to apprentice school and always had a smile on his face and was super positive,” he told Racing News.

“As recently as August, and he was quite sick, he came to our apprentice awards where he won the Salvation Army Courage Under Fire award.

“We didn’t expect him to come but he turned up and got on the stage and he showed all his heart and courage right the way through.

Apprentice jockey Yong Chew sadly lost his battle against throat cancer

“He rode part of two years, but really only rode for one season. He had a couple of injuries and then he got sick.

“He was going well and the races that he won early on he rode really well.”

Chew competed in 83 races, having his first ride on the track in August 2019. He celebrated his first victory a year later.

Trainer Lance Robinson told racing.com : “He went home two weeks ago. He spent a week in quarantine in Penang hospital and got home and spent time with his family for a week, so that was good.

“He had been battling an aggressive form of throat cancer for just six months.

“He was determined that he was going to beat it.

“He went through chemo and all the treatments.

“He lived with us for the last six months, so we went on the ride with him. He was like family.

“We got him down here and he spent two years with us.

“He rode five winners and was a kid who was going to be all right.”

Chew had been due to return to ride at Kranji for reigning Singapore champion Michael Clements in August.

During the fundraising effort, the trainer said the racing employee “had a great work ethic and was a very determined guy.”

A tweet from Go Racing, leading syndicators of thoroughbred racehorses and a supporter of the campaign, read: “Our condolences to Yong Chew’s family and friends.

“It is a small comfort to know he was able to get home to Malaysia to see his family for his final weeks and we would like to thank everyone who supported our fundraiser to make this happen.”

Earlier this week, another jockey from the southern hemisphere died after being swept out to sea.

Chris Caserta, who was the same age as Chew, went missing during a late night swim off the Australian coast.

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