The life and death of champion jockey Stathi Katsidis was commemorated in an emotional service today.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Toowoomba Community Baptist Church in Katsidis’ home town to farewell the local hero.

Clea Harbison reports.

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Friends and family to Stathi Katsidis paid their last respects at this morning’s service.

The 31 year old jockey was found dead in his Hendra home last Tuesday.

Among those who spoke at the service was Katsidis’ distraught fiancée, Melissa Jackson.

Melissa Jackson, Fiancée: “I can’t imagine my life without him. He was my sunshine on a rainy day. He taught me so much in life. He gave me wings, and now I will be able to soar.”

Friend Tony Dever paid tribute to his mate as a champion jockey and a great bloke.

Tony Dever, Friend: “Stathi was living proof on how fine a person can be. A loving partner to Melissa, a devoted father figure to Brooklyn. He was also a wonderful friend to many of us and a great colleague to the racing industry.”

Many tears were shed as symbols of Katsidis’ life and career were placed on his casket by friends and members of the racing community.

Stathi’s father became too overcome with emotion during the service to present his eulogy. He was supported by a member of the family.

Tony Jackson, father of Stathi’s fiancée, said the family are grateful for the support they have received.

Tony Jackson, Fiancée’s Father: “As you can have seen Stathi touched the hearts of a lot of people in his short but very fulfilled life as a jockey and as a general person.”

Katsidis was set to ride “Shoot Out” in the upcoming Melbourne Cup. His ride will now be taken by Corey Brown, who rode the horse at the Cox plate at Moonee Valley last Saturday.

An autopsy into his death has proven inconclusive, police are waiting on toxicology results.

Clea Harbison, QUT News.