SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - He was a talented jockey who had the potential to become one of the best.
But the 22-year-old’s career was cut short when he fell from a ledge of a Choa Chu Kang condominium on Tuesday evening.
Mr Timothy Bell, an Australian who was here on a three-month riding stint, had misplaced the keys to his penthouse at Mi Casa condominium and decided to climb to a ledge to enter his unit through a kitchen window.
But he slipped, fell and plummeted 12 storeys onto a patch of plants.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but he died in hospital.
Mr Bell's Australian girlfriend, Miss Heidi Whalley, who was with him at the time, said he realised he had misplaced his keys when they got home.
"He saw that the lift landing was near his kitchen window and decided to make a climb for it," she told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News yesterday.
"I was just 2m away, but I couldn’t react in time when he fell. I saw him fall with my own eyes."
A neighbour, Mrs May O'Connell, 40, told The New Paper that she saw a police cordon at the foot of her block when she reached home at about 8pm.
I was just 2m away, but I couldn’t react in time when he fell. I saw him fall with my own eyes.
MISS HEIDI WHALLEY, Mr Bell's Australian girlfriend
She later learnt from cleaners and security staff that Mr Bell had been alive after the fall and that they thought he would be all right.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said it received a call for assistance at about 7pm and found a man in his 20s who was not breathing and did not have a pulse at the scene.
Its paramedics tried to revive Mr Bell by performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on him on the way to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, the spokesman added.
A police spokesman said Mr Bell died at the hospital.
When told that Mr Bell had died, Mrs O'Connell was distraught.
"I cannot believe it. He was so young. My heart goes out to him and his family," she said.
Mrs O'Connell, who has lived at Mi Casa for three years, said Mr Bell moved in about three weeks ago.
She described him as a "handsome, young and friendly" neighbour whose girlfriend would often ask her about her dog when they met in the lift.
The tragedy has shocked the horse racing community.
Trainer Steven Burridge, who was instrumental in bringing the 2013/2014 Brisbane champion to Singapore, told TNP: "It’s a tragedy. Timmy had a lot of ability, a lot of potential. His rising career was cut short."
In the two months that Mr Bell was racing here, he rode six winners.
Just two weeks ago, he earned his first piece of silverware when he won the $150,000 Group 3 El Dorado Classic over 2,200m with promising stayer Sebrose.
Mr Burridge said he got to know Mr Bell in July when the young man was preparing to come here on a two-week apprenticeship.
"I spoke to him over the phone and he struck me a confident, capable young man," said Mr Burridge.
"When I met him later, I could see he had ability. He had a lot of knowledge, was very capable in handling the horses and was a very polished rider."
He said Mr Bell wanted to test himself in other countries after doing well in Australia.
He was later granted a three-month licence to race here from October to December.
"Even before the three months were up, he was already applying for a 12-month extension. He also aimed to move on to more prestigious horse-racing places such as Hong Kong," said Mr Burridge.
Mr Matthew Kellady, 36, a jockey who has been racing here since 2002, said Mr Bell had racked up an impressive record for someone so young.
"I've raced him about four to five times and each time, he put up a tough fight," he said.
Australian jockey John Powell, 45, described Mr Bell as pleasant, well-liked and excitable.
"He sat beside me in the jockey room. He would ask me for advice on Singapore such as how the place is, where to stay and small things on how to make life easier," he said.
"He had a very good style and was very lightweight. He was able to handle the horses and get into good positions - that’s what made him so good."
Mr Burridge said he heard about the accident at about 8pm on Tuesday.
"At first, I thought it wasn’t serious but it turned out to be. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to have happened," he said.
The Singapore Turf Club expressed its condolences to Mr Bell’s family and friends in a statement on its website.
The police are investigating the unnatural death. TNP understands there was no foul play involved.
Bell had great future on global stage
Australian jockey Timothy Bell, who died tragically on Tuesday from what appears to be an accident at a Choa Chu Kang condominium, had a bright future on the global horse-racing stage.
With a Brisbane senior title already on his resume at the young age of 22, the newly Singapore-licensed jockey was still hungry, but this time for success on the international front.
From his first days in the saddle in Tamworth in rural New South Wales, where he hailed from, to the top riding ranks in Sydney and Brisbane, Mr Bell had enjoyed a whirlwind career that not many of his peers can boast of.
Besides his Brisbane champion jockey title in the 2013/2014 season, he had around 20 Group wins to his name, the highlight being last year’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks aboard Tinto.
While he could have ridden on the crest of that meteoric rise by keeping a foothold in his own backyard, the young go-getter was looking further afield.
He wanted to conquer the world.
A first taste of international racing came in July when he was offered the ride on the Steven Burridge-trained Lim’s Showcase in the Group 3 Juvenile Championship at Kranji.
While he did not win that race, he did not return home empty-handed, as he scored aboard Lim’s Sprint (also trained by Mr Burridge) in one of the undercard races.
After Mr Bell was granted a 3½ months’ licence to race in Singapore, he said: "It's always been an ambition of mine to ride overseas one day and I liked Singapore racing straightaway."
Mr Bell, who started riding at 15, felt that it was time to get out of his comfort zone and Singapore had a strong appeal.
Originally licensed to start riding at Kranji on Sept 14, he had to wait until last month to make his debut and yielded a second place aboard D’Buffalo Man.
After 18 unsuccessful rides, he rode home his first Kranji winner as a long-term licensed jockey in a narrow victory aboard the Cliff Brown-trained Hades on Oct 18.
He went on to make it a quick double in the next race with favourite Lim’s Bullet.
He earned his first silverware in Singapore by winning the $150,000 Group 3 El Dorado Classic on Oct 25, riding the promising stayer Sebrose to perfection.
The El Dorado Classic is a traditional lead-up race to the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup to be run on Nov 15.
Mr Bell was a good bet to get the mount in the Gold Cup.
Incidentally, his last win here came in the last race of the last meeting on Nov 1 when he brought home hot favourite Lim’s Bullet.