"Richard's gone but it’s not too late to speak out and do more to help others" says wife of tragic trainer

Fri 26 Jan 2018

By Andy Stephens

Kayley Woollacott has paid tribute to her late husband, Richard, and written about his long-term battle with mental illness and the need to do more to help other sufferers.

The racing world was left shocked after it was announced on Tuesday morning that Woollacott, who was based in South Molton in Devon, had died aged 40.

His wife has confirmed Beer Goggles will line up under her name in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday "in memory of Richard" and she has also set up a fundraising page page to raise money for three charities, including Mind, which helps people experiencing mental health problems.

"I’ve lost my husband, best friend and the father of our child," Kayley said. "It’s too late for us, he has gone but it’s not too late to speak out and do more to help others from becoming lost.

"Richard was a wonderful husband and father to his three children, as well as a truly talented trainer who achieved many amazing things despite battling mental health problems for many years.

Richard Woollacott Woollacott struggled with "many hidden issues" behind closed doors (Racingfotos)

"The happy, enthusiastic, determined, and social person that everyone has paid such beautiful tributes to, is the man I love and married, but unfortunately we also struggled with many hidden issues behind closed doors, which ultimately carried a very tragic price."

She added in the "my story" section of her fundrasing page: "Horse racing was our life, a life we chose and one we loved, but it can be an unforgiving and demanding game, that delivers incredible highs and lows as demonstrated in many of his emotional television interviews.

"I am incredibly proud of Richard and, although he may have never felt or admitted it himself, he was hugely successful.

"He was a National Champion Point To Point jockey, having trained the majority of the winners he rode, and a Grade 2 Winning National Hunt trainer. I am just devastated that we were unable to make him believe in himself in the same way we all did.

"Suicide is the single biggest cause of death of men between 18-45. We must DO more.

"By making this page, we aim to raise money for these three important charities in memory of Richard. If we can help just one other person from getting so lost then it is worth it."

Mind help raise awareness of the serious issues of mental health and encourages people to speak up.

Money contributed will also go to the Injured Jockey’s Fund and the Devon Air Ambulance Trainer.

Harry Fry has announced he will be donating any prize-money he receives at Cheltenham on Saturday to the fund, while the racecourse will hold a minute's silence at 3.20pm - 15 minutes before Beer Goggles runs - and will encourage racegoers to make donations to the three charities chosen by Kayley.

Envelopes for donations to the charities will be available at the track tomorrow and there will be a dedicated marquee located above the winner's enclosure and before reaching Quevega's.

Beer Googles - Newbury - 2017 Beer Goggles will run in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday (Racingfotos)

Beer Goggles is a leading contender for the Cleeve Hurdle after producing a personal best to win at Newbury last time.

Kayley said in a statement issued by the IJF: "Beer Goggles will run on Saturday at Cheltenham Racecourse in memory of Richard.

"Whilst it will be a very emotional day for everybody, it is important that we celebrate all of Richard's hard work and continue with his plan for this special horse. I'd welcome everyone to attend in support.

"I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support. The racing industry has shown a huge amount of compassion for Richard and us during this tragic time.

"Richard was a much-loved husband, father, son, brother and friend. He was also a talented jockey and trainer who achieved many amazing things.

"Sadly, after battling with it for many years, he lost his life to mental illness.

"While nothing will bring Richard back, I feel there is more there could, and should, be done to help others."

Richard Johnson File Photo

Richard Johnson will ride Beer Goggles and said in his Betway Blog: "I was incredibly sad to hear the news about Richard. Like for everyone it was an awful shock and he is a huge loss to racing.

"I will remember him for always having a big smile on his face at the races and he loved what he did.

"He was a trainer that was really starting to make a name for himself and the performance of Beer Goggles at Newbury showed that.

"He was over the moon that day, it was the biggest winner of his training career.

"He bought the horse and managed to get him from quite a low grade into a Grade Two winner which is an incredibly impressive feat.

"It’s going to be a very sad day on Saturday at Cheltenham without him there. Obviously my thoughts are with his family and hopefully Beer Goggles can run well in his memory."

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