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    Remembering Stefano Cherchi
Remembering Stefano Cherchi
Stefano Cherchi. Source: Sky Sports

Remembering Stefano Cherchi

When he was 16, Stefano Cherchi informed his mother that he intended to leave for Britain to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey. Despite her objection, Cherchi insisted on going.

Stefano’s Career

At the age of 23, Cherchi had already achieved remarkable success in his racing career. He had won over 100 races in Britain since his debut in 2018. In early 2024, Cherchi made the move to Australia, where he continued to ride and experienced success by securing victories in February and March. Unfortunately, tragedy struck on March 20 when Cherchi was involved in an accident at the Canberra Racecourse, resulting in a head injury and internal bleeding.

During his time in California, Cherchi worked closely with trainer Phil D'Amato, who spoke highly of him and expressed the shock and sadness felt by the entire barn. Cherchi's presence had been a bright light, and D'Amato considered himself fortunate to have had Cherchi as part of his team for a few months.

Cherchi had joined D'Amato's team based on the recommendation of Umberto Rispoli, a prominent rider in Southern California and a fellow Italian. Cherchi and Rispoli had a close friendship, and D'Amato described the bond between them as that of brothers.

Antonio Fresu, another accomplished Italian jockey in Southern California, had known Cherchi since they were young. He had watched Cherchi's career develop in England from its early stages in 2018. Cherchi's decision to move to Australia in late 2023 was supported by Fresu, who noted that Cherchi was enjoying his time there and had begun to achieve success with several victories.

Cherchi's story is one of promise and potential, cut tragically short, leaving behind a legacy of talent and a profound impact on those who knew him in the racing community.

Stefano Cherchi's mass. Source: Unione Sarda
Stefano Cherchi's mass. Source: Unione Sarda

Gathering of closest ones

On Sunday, a large gathering of individuals whose lives had been positively impacted by Cherchi's courageous decision to follow his passion gathered at Our Lady Immaculate and Saint Etheldreda Church in Newmarket to commemorate him.

The church was unable to accommodate everyone, with attendees spilling out beyond its capacity. Positioned at the front, leaning against the altar, was a portrait of the young rider, depicting a gentle smile and kind eyes.

Cherchi was hospitalised following a fall while riding in Canberra, Australia. Tragically, he passed away on April 3 at the age of 23, leading those who knew him intimately and the broader racing community into a state of sorrow and mourning.

Since his passing, those who have spoken about Cherchi have highlighted his charm, politeness, unwavering ambition, and dedication to his family.

Jimmy Quinn, one of the organisers of the memorial service, remarked, “I’d known him since he got here. He was a good lad, very ambitious, and he loved his racing and his job. He just wanted success and to travel the world to do it.“ 

Quinn further expressed, “I expected a full church and we got one. Everybody turned up and while a couple of things didn’t quite go as planned, I’d say he’s probably looking down laughing. Everyone who knew him knew how much of a nice kid he was, and we wanted to pay our respects. I’m glad they came to do that.”

Among the attendees who exceeded the church's capacity of 350 were trainers Marco Botti and Amy Murphy, both of whom Cherchi had worked for and excelled under on the racetrack. Additionally, notable figures such as Julia Feilden, Des Donovan, John Berry, and Robert Eddery were present.

Nevertheless, it was the fellow riders of Cherchi who garnered the most attention. Notable figures such as Adam Kirby, William Buick, and Michael Hills, who have all triumphed in the Derby, were present. Accompanying them were Jamie Spencer, Pat Cosgrave, Daniel Muscutt, Neil Callan, Jack Quinlan, Freddy Tylicki, and George Baker. Additionally, Paul Struthers and Dale Gibson from the Professional Jockeys Association, Dr Jerry Hill, the chief medical adviser of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and Lisa Hancock, the chief executive of the Injured Jockeys Fund, also paid their respects.

Brittany Fallon with Stefano Cherchi. Source: The Sun
Brittany Fallon with Stefano Cherchi. Source: The Sun

Paying respects to the gone

During the eulogies, which commemorated Cherchi's kindness and his loving relationship with Brittany Fallon, the audience listened to heartfelt speeches. One such speech was delivered by his brother Matteo, who made the decision to speak in English so that everyone could understand the true essence of Stefano. Matteo expressed gratitude to Stefano for teaching them to face fear and never give up on their dreams, regardless of how far away they may seem. Stefano had a strong desire to conquer the world, and although he had a long journey ahead, he had already achieved this by winning the hearts of everyone he encountered through his way of being.

Matteo also shared a quote from Stefano's eulogy at a memorial service in Canberra, where Stefano had said, “It is tough at times, I’m not going to lie. It depends on how you deal with things, but I’m sure we will be all happy together one day – God has the right plan for all of us.”

On Sunday, Matteo added, “All is a very nice word as it can signify a lot, or very little. Today it means a lot. In this ‘all’, Stefano thought about all the people he loved, all the people he tried to take care of when he was here. That ‘all’ that he meant is here in this place today and he is the only one missing.

“Stefano, I think that one day, that moment will come and your plan will come together and we will all be together again. I think you will tell us we did well filling the gap that you left and especially, as usual, you arrived before us.”

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