A JOKER and a gentleman was remembered when a funeral service for much loved jockey James Banks was held in his home town of Marlborough.

The former jockey died aged 36 in the Cotswolds on February 3 after it is believed he took his own life.

Police were called to his home after Banks did not turn up for work at the Naunton stables of Emma-Jane Bishop, where he has been working since August.

His death shocked the racing world with many big names taking to Twitter to pay their respects and remember a friend and fellow rider.

Among them was former Manton trainer George Baker who wrote in his blog: “”Banksy” was a mainstay of our team at Manton - a very talented rider who perhaps did not get the opportunities on the track that his ability deserved.

“He rode 80 odd winners, and was an extremely popular member of our team. And much liked in the weighing room by his colleagues.

“Never short of a silly joke or witty riposte, Banksy brought many a smile to a grey morning on the gallops.”

At his funeral on Wednesday James’ brother Ryan helped carry his coffin into the church and then spoke movingly about his brother.

He said: “James would light up any room he walked into. He was a friend who would pick you up, put his arm around you and put a smile back on your face. He was a joker and a gentleman. James was my brother, my best friend and my idol.”

The service was taken by the Rev Sandy Railton who told the congregation: “I have no more answers and just as many questions.”

James’ coffin was taken to the church in a carriage pulled by two splendid black horses and then carried carefully by six pallbearers including his brother.

A picture of James in his jockey silks was placed at the front of the church.

After the service was complete the funeral cortege went on a lap around the town.

An inquest was opened on February 17 into Mr Banks death and was adjourned until June 11.

Assistant Gloucestershire coroner Roland Wooderson heard that police were called to Mr Banks’ home near Stow-on-the-Wold.

His boss went to check on him, saw a note he had left, and then called the police.

Coroner’s officer Andrew Wasley said: “Mr James Banks was the head lad at a local stables. On the morning of February 3, he did not arrive for work, which was out of character.

“His boss went to his home and found a note left on view, as a result of which she made an emergency call.”

Mr Wasley said that police were called to the address, where they found the body of Mr Banks.

There were no suspicious circumstances.

The court heard the cause of death had not yet been ascertained and further tests were awaited.

During his career, Mr Banks rode a total of 85 winners.