Widow of trainer who took his own life aiming to continue his legacy with Cheltenham success

After the tragic loss of her husband Richard last year, Kayley Woollacott acquired a trainer’s licence and now she’s got Lalor running in the Arkle.

KAYLEY WOLLACOTT’S LIFE was turned upside when her husband Richard died by suicide in January 2018 — having battled with mental illness for a long period. 

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, however, the mother of one took on his trainer’s licence at their yard in Devon. 

Just three months after the loss, stable star Lalor won the Grade 1 Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle, when an emotional Kayley spoke of how proud Richard would have been to witness the success. 

Imago 20180413 Kayley Woollacott with owner David Staddon (left), jockey Richard Johnson (centre) and Lalor after their win at Aintree last year. Imago / PA Images Imago / PA Images / PA Images

Now in her first full season as a National Hunt trainer, Wollacott is aiming to continue her late husband’s legacy by claiming victory with the David Staddon-owned seven-year-old in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham.

Having come on board as her sponsor, Betway are also shadowing the 32-year-old as part of a documentary series.  

“Understandably, people sit on the fence and, leading into the season, [they would have been thinking] ‘Can she train? Can she not train? Was she just the wife at home?’” Kayley says during the first episode. 

“Whether that was true or not, that’s how I felt and I knew I had put a team together to help me do it. For them, for me and for everybody, I wanted to be able to show what we could do.” 

Betway / YouTube

In November, Lalor was entered into the Arkle Trophy Trial at Cheltenhem — his first-ever race over fences. He romped home in emphatic style with Wollacott unable to hide her joy at the finish line. 

A month later at Sandown, things didn’t go quite as well, however.  

“Sandown was a difficult one and possibly one that I didn’t get quite right,” Kayley admits. “We had a lot of rain and it was just one of those things that didn’t work out. 

“He didn’t enjoy it the ground and he didn’t travel like he did at Cheltenham.”

Betway / YouTube

For tomorrow’s Arkle, Lalor and jockey Richard Johnson are ranked a 5/1 shot and success would be extra special for Wollacott, her family and everyone involved with the stables. 

Johnson says: “Every Cheltenham Festival is very important and any winner there is a massive day. 

The Arkle is one of the top class races as a Grade One, and for Kayley, her team and Richard, it would be a very poignant moment if he could get his head in front. Hopefully it will be a great day for everybody. 

“My daughter [Bella] is very aware that Cheltenham is coming up,” adds Kayley. “She’s very confident and just thinks Lalor is going to win. It would be lovely to have a day that she can remember when she’s older of him putting up a big performance there.” 

Betway / YouTube

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