ARTHUR SHONE - horse racing correspondent for The Wrexham Leader for more than 30 years - has died, aged 68.

Mr Shone, who first penned a column for the 'big' Leader in the late 1980s, passed away at the weekend after losing a year-long battle with cancer.

He has been The Leader's racing man ever since as well as serving as the public relations officer for the North West area point to point - and tributes have poured in from courses and trainers across the country.

Brought up in Wrexham, Mr Shone also made regular contributions to Shropshire Star, Cheshire Life magazine and BBC Radio Wales.

He wrote a book about Wrexham races which were run at Wrexham racecourse before the football club was established.

One of his last requests was to have his ashes scattered at Bangor-on-Dee Races while Jeannie Chantler, general manager at the North Wales course, has said a memorial race in his honour will be run later in the year.

"We are very honoured that the family want his Ashes scattered at the racecourse," she said.

"I've been at Bangor for 26 years and Arthur was here for every meeting.

"He did many articles on the history of Bangor races - pieces that we still use today.

"He was a lovely man, kind and generous and always willing to listen.

"We will definitely plan to hold a memorial race in his honour here."

Donald McCain was saddened to hear the news with Bangor's leading trainer describing Mr Shone as a 'true gentleman.'

"Arthur was a gentleman and never missed ringing me before a Bangor meeting," said the Cheshire-based trainer.

"He always had a smile and a pleasant word and will be sadly missed."

Another top trainer, Tom Dascombe, who would get a call from Mr Shone every time a meeting was on at Chester, described him as 'old-school' and a 'top class man.'

Malpas based Mr Dascombe said: "What a fella! I'm so shocked and saddened. It was Chester last week and I was expecting a call from him. He always rang me before a Chester meeting.

"He was a top class man, a lovely man and I have wonderful memories of Arthur. He was old school and will be sorely missed by everyone."

Leader Sports Editor Nick Harrison said a trip to Bangor-on-Dee races won't be the same without seeing Arthur Shone nipping in between the paddock and press room.

"He was proud of the fact that he hardly ever missed a meeting at Bangor," he said. "He was just as pleased with his record of being the top tipster at his home course.

"Donald McCain was right calling Arthur a gentleman. He was even writing previews and round-ups from his hospital bed - and that's how much it meant to him to give his loyal following of Leader readers the best bets he could for Bangor and Chester.

"He loved Aintree, Cheltenham, Haydock. He loved racing and had great delight when his pre-race tips turned into big-price winners.

"Bangor won't be the same without him and neither will the write-ups with one-liners like 'stays longer than the mother-in-law' when describing a horse that had stamina in abundance."

Aintree racecourse, where Mr Shone reported on all the Grand Nationals, tweeted: "Saddened to hear of the passing of respected racing journalist, Arthur Shone. He was a huge supporter and friend of Aintree and Northwest racing. Sincere condolences to his family and friends."

He leaves his partner Elizabeth, two sons Kelvin and Geraint and five grandchildren, Bobi, Aiden, Morgan, Arwen and Hafina.

Partner Elizabeth Johnston said: "Arthur made Liverpool his home for the last 20 years. He embraced the people, the sense of humour and the friendliness of its citizens

"In return the people in Liverpool who were lucky to meet Arthur found a warm, passionate and positive man who enjoyed his company particularly when the subject was about his love of horse racing.

"You will always be in the hearts and memories of the people of Liverpool."

Eldest son Kelvin said: "To everyone else he was Arthur from the Horse racing or Arthur from the paper, but to me he was Dad and I couldn’t have asked for a better or more supportive one, he was always there when I needed him and it was always with pride that growing up I was referred to as Arthur’s Lad. I will miss him so much."