I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to Robert Alner who died last night at Odstock Hospital in Salisbury.

His achievements as a top amateur jockey and racehorse trainer are well documented and include a Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cool Dawn.

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. That he survived for more than twelve years after sustaining such terrible injuries was nothing short of miraculous. He was confined to a wheelchair, could hardly move and needed twenty 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 on his many visits to Odstock.

I’d see Robert from time to time at our local point-to-points, invariably in good form, holding court from his wheelchair in the back of his specially converted vehicle.

Frankly he was a marvel. What an amazing man. RIP