Cancer claims rookie’s life , Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Cancer claims rookie’s life

NZ-based Singapore racing programme apprentice Chew Yong Yuan had a promising future as a jockey

The end came swiftly. Just eight months after being diagnosed with throat cancer while in New Zealand, former Kranji-based apprentice jockey Chew Yong Yuan succumbed to his illness and passed away in Penang on Tuesday morning.

The death of the 26-year-old budding jockey was a double blow for the racing fraternity. On Sunday, prominent horse owner, Dr Tan Kai Chah of Hippocrates Stable, died of a heart attack while attending to medical business in Hainan, China.

Penang-born Chew had, since 2017, been in New Zealand, where he was serving his apprenticeship under the Singapore Training Academy of Racing programme.

It was there that he was diagnosed with the disease in April.

Chew was on the cusp of a bright riding career when it was all derailed.

He had already ridden five winners when his career came to a halt so that he could receive treatment.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and it was decided that it was best that he returned to Malaysia. That was last month.

The flight back home was made possible by an online charity golf fundraiser in New Zealand.

Held on Oct 15, it was put together by syndicators Go Racing and aided by Racetrack Support, an arm of the Salvation Army, which cares for the wellbeing of people within the racing industry and offers free confidential service for those in need.

Chew was supposed to return to Singapore to ride for trainer Michael Clements but, sadly, it was not to be.

Clements was saddened by the death of the young apprentice.

"It was never looking good for him," he said. "So it was our way of doing what we could for the young man.

"We were able to send him home to be with his family.

"The golf day fundraiser helped put him on a medical flight from Christchurch to Singapore and then to Kuala Lumpur, where an ambulance took him to Penang."

That was a couple of weeks ago.

Chew had hoped to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, jockey Mark Ewe.

"I still remember when he told me that he wanted to become a jockey," said a distraught Ewe.

"I introduced him to (trainer) Desmond Koh, who put him to work as a track rider before he went over to Clements.

"I have no doubt that he would have made it as a jockey. But it won't happen now."

Since 2019, Chew had been among the the list of licencees - with Clements listed as his designated master.

But it was long before that and in New Zealand, that the young man began to leave his mark.

It was in August last year, that he rode his first winner in a 2,000m race in Riccarton Park.

He went on to ride another four winners from 83 rides.

The world of horseracing was opening up for this young man when tragedy struck.

To his family and loved ones, we offer our heartfelt condolences.