Robert Alner: Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer dies aged 76

Robert Alner (centre)
Alner trained until his retirement in 2010

Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Robert Alner has died aged 76.

Alner triumphed with Cool Dawn in 1998 and trained several other leading steeplechasers - including Sir Rembrandt, The Listener and Kingscliff - in a distinguished career.

He was seriously injured in a car crash in 2007, which left him paralysed and in need of a wheelchair.

"He will be sorely missed," said Andrew Thornton, who rode Cool Dawn to victory 22 years ago.

Thornton said Dorset-based Alner was only given two years to live and spent 101 days in intensive care after the crash.

But he went on to continue training under a joint licence with his wife Sally until 2010, when the pair announced their retirement.

"It's really sad news. I was very close to Robert. They were like a second family," an emotional Thornton told Sky Sports Racing.

He won the Welsh National in 2007 on Miko de Beauchene for Alner as the trainer recovered in hospital.

"That success was on a par with the Gold Cup. It was a real tonic for Robert," he said.

It has been a sad 24 hours for the jump racing community after former jockey James Banks was found dead at his Gloucestershire home aged 36.

Banks, who had retired from race riding almost exactly two years earlier, was a popular figure with colleagues.

"He was the life and soul of the weighing room, great to have around the place. It's been a terrible 24 hours," said Thornton.

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