British racing has been rocked by the deaths of popular trainer Robert Alner on the same day as jockey James Banks.
Alner, who was paralysed after a car accident in 2007 and given two years to live, celebrated his biggest moment when Cool Dawn won the 1998 renewal Cheltenham Gold Cup.
After his accident, Alner continued to train alongside his wife Sally before retiring in 2010.
“It was Robert’s extraordinary toughness of spirit after a life-threatening car accident in November 2007 that left an indelible impression on everyone who knew him,” champion trainer Paul Nicholls said on Twitter.
“That he survived for more than 12 years after sustaining such terrible injuries was nothing short of miraculous. He was confined to a wheelchair, could hardly move and needed 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
“But he continued to take a lively interest in everything around him, followed racing closely, retained a warm sense of humour and was an inspiration to his friends, family and the doctors and nurses who looked after him.”
Talented jumps jockey Banks, 36, had a history of mental health problems during his career which ended in 2018.
“James was an immensely popular member of the weighing room and remained so since his retirement from the saddle in February 2018,” the Professional Jockeys Association said.
“He worked extremely hard and was passionate about and dedicated to his craft.
“He had an infectious personality with a sharp sense of humour, and that is the James we will all remember.
“Underneath this outgoing exterior, James had issues that he bravely tried to address. He had the support of a loving family and was aware of and had engaged with the extensive support available to current and former professional riders.”
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