Former apprentice Laura Barry loses cancer battle on the day before her wedding
Former apprentice Laura Barry lost her battle with cancer on Friday morning, aged 25.
To add to the heartbreak she was due to marry Ben Hamilton, brother of jockey Tony, the following day.
A very emotional Richard Fahey, for whom Barry used to ride, said on Friday: "She was a wonderful, wonderful person and she passed away with dignity. She was a super girl, just a super, super girl, and it's so very sad for everyone.
"It's horrendous. There's no good time for anything like that, but it's extremely sad – she was due to get married tomorrow. She's a girl I'm very proud to have known, she was a simply wonderful girl."
Gemma Tutty got to know Barry when they rode around the world together in the HH Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak World Apprentice Series and set up a GoFundMe page when Barry required several adaptations to her home.
Paying tribute to her best pal, she said: "She was so tremendously brave and fought tenaciously right until the end.
"We made memories together that will last a lifetime and I'm so grateful that racing brought us together. I couldn't be prouder to call her my best friend."
Barry started suffering pain in her left leg in 2016 and was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour on her L4 nerve duct. The tumour was treated but in November returned on her L5.
She suffered paralysis in her left leg from the hip downwards, and with no available chemotherapy specific to her cancer it spread to other organs.
Former champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who worked with Barry at Fahey's, was another to pay tribute, saying: "Everyone's just devastated. Tony and his brother Ben are my best friends and they were obviously very close to Laura. Ben and her were supposed to be getting married this weekend and that only makes it even more sad."
He added: "I'd known Laura for years and you couldn't really get a nicer girl. She was an absolute credit to herself and it's incredibly sad. I feel for Ben, Tony and all the family.
"I saw her last week at York, she was on her hen do and we went up to the box to see her and have a chat because I hadn't seen her for a while. It says everything about just how tough she was, she's been very ill for a long time but she was cheerful and putting a brave face on everything."
He concluded: "It just puts everything into perspective. You can get caught up in racing and moan about getting beat, the ground, or having a bad draw, but it's nothing really."
Barry rode 18 winners in a 193-ride career from 2010 to 2014.