A poignant postscript to the short life and tragic death of Willy Kan Wai-yue came yesterday with the news that she had been looking forward to a return trip to England this summer.
Trainer Kevin Ryan, who trains at Hambleton, could not believe the news that the young Chinese woman who rode for him last summer was dead.
'It's unreal. I can't believe it. She wrote to us just two weeks ago, to tell us how much she was looking forward to coming back here in the summer. She came up here and had a couple of rides for us last summer. We honestly thought the world of her, she was a lovely girl.
'This is a real tragedy.' Equally shocked was trainer David Nicholls and wife Alex Greaves, who rode at the Ladies' Day meeting here last season.
Kan was sent to Nicholls in the north of England and rode one winner, Nervous Rex, for him at Haydock Park. After the post, Nervous Rex swerved to hit the running rail, unseating Kan, which ultimately led to the double vision that prevented her riding for the first three months of the present season.
A shocked Nicholls said: 'She was a lovely girl. She worked from 2am until late at night, nothing was too much trouble. This has stopped us in our tracks.
'She would ring us up every week and was so excited that she had a ride in the Hong Kong Derby.' Jockey Club stewards, led by the chairman, Alan Li Fook-sum, attended a special Buddhist ceremony at Sha Tin yesterday in memory of the dead woman.
The chief executive, Lawrence Wong, together with the five directors of the various Jockey Club departments were also in attendance for the 45-minute ceremony.