TRIBUTES were paid yesterday to Chepstow Racecourse’s long-serving head groundsman who died aged 50, after suffering from cancer.

Robert Mottram started working at the racecourse on July 1, 1975, after leaving school, and worked his way up to become head groundsman and estates manager.

Tim Long, who worked with Mr Mottram at the racecourse for many years, said: “Robert was a lovely man and a great servant to Chepstow Racecourse. In my view, he was one of the great groundsmen in British racing.

“He was instrumental in many of the advances that the racecourse has made in track management because of his wealth of knowledge and his experience. He was an excellent team leader and he will be missed by everyone.”

Racecourse general manager, Richard Holland, described Mr Mottram’s death as “a huge loss.”

He said: “Robert was a tremendously popular man and was liked very much by all his colleagues and friends at the racecourse. He is not only a huge loss for Chepstow, but also for the racing industry as a whole.”

Tony Kelly, group managing director of Northern Racing, the racecourse’s parent company, said: “Racing occasionally produces characters like Robert, people who work in the background tirelessly and unstintingly for their whole working lives.

“He never gave up caring about his work and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Chepstow Racecourse and Northern Racing.”

Mr Mottram leaves a widow, Jayne, and two children, Daniel and Sophie.