Kranji jockey Berry, 23, dies from rare illness

Kranji jockey Berry, 23, dies from rare illness
Australian jockey Nathan Berry riding on Indian Jade at Singapore Turf Club in Kranji on March 16, his last day of riding. He was struck down by an illness just two days later.

Australian jockey Nathan Berry was at the peak of his life, winning the prestigious A$2 million (S$2.3 million) Magic Millions race in January, and getting married a month later.

However, everything came to a tragic end yesterday when the 23-year-old died in Sydney from an epilepsy-related illness called the Norse (New-Onset Refractory Status Epilepticus) syndrome.

The illness first surfaced on March 18 during his four-month riding stint at Singapore's Kranji racecourse.

Berry, who has 351 career wins, was in mid-conversation at the canteen of the Singapore Turf Club (STC) when he suffered a seizure and was sent by ambulance to Gleneagles Hospital.

As his condition deteriorated, his family - who included wife Whitney Schofield, daughter of top South African jockey Glyn - decided to send him back to his hometown Sydney.

He died in a hospital yesterday morning, a few hours after he landed.

Said Singapore-based trainer Michael Freedman, who had accompanied Berry in the ambulance during his initial seizure: "We are deeply saddened. He was a pleasant, terrific young man who has a good work ethic."

The trainer, who was instrumental in bringing Berry to ride here, also added that the jockey was hoping to extend his Kranji contract after a good start with three wins.

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