‘It's just heartbreaking’ - racing in mourning following death of jockey Stefano Cherchi at the age of 23

Stefano Cherchi: rode over 100 winners in Britain
Stefano Cherchi: suffered a mid-race fall in Australia two weeks agoCredit: Mike Egerton (Getty Images)

Jockey Stefano Cherchi has been described as "popular, charming and a great friend" by members of the racing community following his death two weeks on from a mid-race fall in Australia.

Cherchi, who rode more than 100 winners in Britain before riding in Australia during the winter, was placed in intensive care with a serious head injury after his mount fell during a race at Canberra on March 20.

The New South Wales Jockeys Association confirmed the 23-year-old's death on Wednesday morning, leading to an outpouring of tributes from his friends back in Britain. 

Cherchi rode more winners for Marco Botti than any other yard and the trainer hailed the Sardinian-born jockey as “part of the family”. Botti has set up a GoFundMe page for anyone wishing to show a gesture of support to the rider's family.

Botti, who teamed up with Cherchi for 38 winners, said: “He's always been a really charming guy and I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He was polite and always had a smile on his face. He had so many friends and always had time for other people, he was that kind of guy. He wasn't just a jockey, he was a great friend and we're thinking about his family.

“It's very sad. When he came to England he was only 16 and since then he's become part of the family. We were delighted when he had a couple of winners in Australia, he was looking forward to picking up more rides and winners."

Stefano Cherchi:
Stefano Cherchi: rode over 100 winners in BritainCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Cherchi was also said to be relishing a return to ride the Botti-trained Great Generation this season. The jockey came closest to a first Group-race success on the filly when second in the Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr last September.

“We kept in touch and he was joking, telling me to get her ready for the French [1,000] Guineas so he could be back for it," Botti added. "I can't believe this happened, he was only 23. We all know how dangerous the job [of a jockey] can be, but you couldn't think of a tragedy like that. It's just heartbreaking.”

Cherchi moved from Botti to become Amy Murphy's apprentice two years ago and his presence provided a huge lift to the Newmarket yard.

He rode ten winners for Murphy, who said: "It's absolutely devastating beyond belief. He had his whole life ahead of him and it's so cruel he's had that snatched away from him. In his loving memory, we'll remember all the fabulous times we've had, both in his person and cheering on from the sidelines. First and foremost, condolences to his family and we're thinking of them and sending them our love and hugs.

"He was with us for two years before he decided to do a winter in Australia. He was unbelievable, he'd brighten up any place he'd walk into. He never stopped smiling, had the best jokes to tell. He was riding well and getting some good opportunities last season, the world was his oyster quite literally."

Cherchi made his debut in August 2018 and rode his first winner the following April aboard the Botti-trained Withoutdestination at Wolverhampton.

Stefano Cherchi and Maximillion Caesar after victory at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster in September 2023
Stefano Cherchi after victory on Maximilian Caesar at Doncaster last SeptemberCredit: John Grossick (

He enjoyed one of his biggest moments when partnering Maximilian Caesar to victory in a 1m2f handicap at last year's St Leger meeting, beating the Ryan Moore-ridden Westerton in a photo-finish. A month later, he returned to Doncaster to have a first Group 1 ride aboard the Ben Brookhouse-trained Redhot Whisper in the Futurity Trophy, finishing last of seven.

After relocating to New South Wales, he rode two winners with the most recent success coming on Flying Bat at Gosford on March 16.

Cherchi also enjoyed winners at Ascot, Newbury, Sandown and both Newmarket tracks. He was in a relationship with Brittany Fallon, the daughter of legendary rider Kieren Fallon and sister to jockey Cieren Fallon.

The Professional Jockeys Association said it was “devastated” by the tragic news. A statement read: “As well as being a gifted rider, Stefano was immensely popular in the weighing room due to his humility, kindness and sense of humour. He was very much loved and will be missed even more. 

“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with his partner Brittany, his family, friends and colleagues.”


Full name Stefano Davide Cherchi

Born Sardinia, March 8, 2001

Apprenticed to Marco Botti, Newmarket

First mount Casina Di Notte, 8th at Nottingham, August 2, 2018

First winner Withoutdestination, Wolverhampton, April 2, 2019

Most notable winners Mitrosonfire (2021 Grey Horse Handicap, Newmarket), The Covex Kid (2022 Brighton Mile), Maximilian Caesar (2023 Hippo Bamboo Wipes Handicap, Doncaster)

Pattern-race runner-up Great Generation (2023 Firth of Clyde Stakes)

Last winner in Britain Daysofourlives, Chelmsford, November 7, 2023

Last winner Flying Bat, Gosford, New South Wales, March 16, 2024

Highest-rated mounts (RPRs) 112 Gifts Of Gold, 108 Pensiero D'Amore

Most wins in a year in Britain 35 in 2021

Total wins in Britain 106 (2019-23)
Compiled by John Randall

James StevensWest Country correspondent

Published on 3 April 2024inBritain

Last updated 19:27, 3 April 2024