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Racing community mourning loss of ‘brilliant horseman and lovely man’

Tributes have been paid to former jump jockey James Banks, who died on Monday aged 36.

James hailed from a racing background and started his riding career on the Flat before having success as an amateur in pointing and under Rules, winning the amateur riders’ handicap chase aboard Rustarix at the Open meeting at Cheltenham in November 2010.

He turned professional in 2011 and rode close to 90 winners over his career, including a treble at Market Rasen’s 2015 Boxing Day meeting.

James announced his retirement at Chepstow on 2 February 2018, after finishing second on Arquebusier in a handicap chase.

Tributes have poured in from across the racing community, with many remembering him as a “brilliant horseman” with a “smile and a cheeky laugh that could light up any room” and a “lovely man who brought so much joy to those around him”.

A joint statement from the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) remembered James as an “immensely popular member of the weighing room”, remaining so after his retirement.

“He worked extremely hard and was passionate about and dedicated to his craft,” said the tribute.

“It was testament to this dedication that, having switched to the professional ranks relatively late in his career, he was one of the very few ‘claiming professionals’ who was able to ride out his claim.

“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.

“We are all deeply upset by the news of his death and he will be greatly missed by a significant number of people whose lives he touched. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and the IJF and PJA will offer them every support.

“We also ask that their privacy is respected at this incredibly difficult time.”

Support is available to any current or former jockeys affected by the tragic news through the PJA or IJF, or by contacting the PJA’s counselling service, Sporting Chance, on 0778 000 8877.

Anyone working within racing can find support on the Racing Welfare helpline on 0800 6300 443. The Samaritans’ support line can be reached on 116 123.

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