FORMER Western Telegraph journalist Jon Lees has been crowned Racing Reporter of the Year at the 46th Horserace Writers and Photographers Association Derby Awards in London.

The Racing Post's senior racing reporter has been with the newspaper since 1998, joining from the Press Association. He had previously been with the West Wales Guardian, Western Telegraph and Southern News Service.

Lees was pipped to becoming the first recipient of the John Oaksey Trophy by the Guardian’s Chris Cook last year, but he claimed the award this time having been judged to have submitted the best 'live' copy in a category that included Chris McGrath, JA McGrath and Tom Peacock.

Lees, 53, said: "I can't tell you how grateful I am to be picking up this award. Last year's nomination was a peak on its own, this is just overwhelming, particularly in a field comprising reporters of the calibre of Chris McGrath, Aussie Jim McGrath and Tom Peacock.

"I could not have done this job without a lot of help, from the people who have patiently answered the sometimes daily enquiries of this correspondent seeking an angle for a story, to the brilliant editorial staff on the Racing Post, to a hugely supportive family, my wife Fiona who has put her own career to one side to bring up our three children."