Racing pays tribute after trainer Richard Woollacott dies aged 40
Racing has been shocked by the news that Devon trainer Richard Woollacott, who landed his most high-profile success with Beer Goggles in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month, has died aged 40.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the South Molton yard said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Richard this morning. May we ask that you respect the family's privacy at this most difficult time."
Woollacott had been training since 2008 and had sent out 60 winners including two at Grade 2 level, with Lalor winning Aintree's Champion Bumper in April.
Before branching out into training under rules, he had been a successful point-to-point rider, winning the Devon & Cornwall championship nine times and the national title in 2010. Wife Kayley took over training the yard's pointers as her husband's jumps yard grew.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson, who rode Lalor and Beer Goggles to their biggest successes, said: "It's a massive shock. I've been lucky to have a couple of nice winners for Richard but I've known him since his point-to-point days and he was a trainer who worked very hard and did the job well.
"He was a lovely fellow to have around and always good fun. He always had a smile on his face at the races and it's just very sad. He hadn't got many horses but had just started to get a couple of nice ones and everyone is in shock. My thoughts are with his young family and I'm deeply saddened."
BHA chief executive Nick Rust said in a statement: "We are all devastated to hear the news about Richard Woollacott. It is simply tragic to lose someone so young, and who had so much to offer both the racing world and, more importantly, his young family.
"We are in contact with Richard’s family and are doing all we can to support them and assist with on-going arrangements with his yard. Most importantly though our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and indeed all the horses who Richard cared for in his all-too-short time as a trainer, and who will no doubt miss him greatly."
Several racing figures offered their condolences on social media. Daryl Jacob, who with 16 successes rode more for Woollacott than any other jockey, tweeted: "RIP my great friend, we started together on the pointing field, shared so many great days on and off the course, I will miss you so much, god bless you."
Ten-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls praised "a top-class man and a top-class trainer", while Nicky Henderson described the news as "absolutely tragic".
In a statement, Devon & Cornwall Police reported: "Police were notified at around 10.30pm yesterday [Monday] to reports of a concern of welfare for a man at a property in Rose Ash, South Molton. A man in his 40s was discovered deceased at the scene.
"His death is not believed to be suspicious and a file has been prepared for the coroner."
The BHA has granted Kayley Woollacott a temporary licence to train and confirmed that The Major, who is entered in a maiden hurdle at Exeter on Wednesday, will run in her name.
‘A top-class man and a top-class trainer’
RACING PAYS TRIBUTE
Absolutely tragic news to hear of Richard Woollacott’s passing. A huge loss to the training ranks and we send our thoughts and deepest condolences to his family and close friends.— Nicky Henderson (@sevenbarrows) January 23, 2018
Awful news to hear about the passing of Richard Woollacot. My deepest condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends at this terrible time. RIP— AP McCoy (@AP_McCoy) January 23, 2018
Myself and all of Team Ditcheat are saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Woollacott. A top class man and a top class trainer, he will be much missed by so many. Our thoughts are with his family at this toughest of times. #RIP— Paul Nicholls (@PFNicholls) January 23, 2018
Stunned by the death of Richard Woollacott. His joy @NewburyRacing when Beer Goggles landed the Long Distance Hurdle @itvracing was infectious. Life...and death can be so cruel. Just 40. pic.twitter.com/00avLxLfQ4— Matt Chapman (@MCYeeehaaa) January 23, 2018
Very sad to hear the news about Richard Woollacott, all here at Newbury pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends. Beer Goggles winning the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle last month has been one of the highlights of our season. pic.twitter.com/Nxx1qtF6on— Newbury Racecourse (@NewburyRacing) January 23, 2018
Incredibly sad news coming through today.— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) January 23, 2018
The thoughts of everyone at Goodwood Racecourse are with the friends and family of Richard Woollacott. https://t.co/HMJ0JCft6o
Condolences to Richard Woollacott’s family at this difficult time - a very talented horseman who I’ve known and respected in the West Country for many years. A tragic loss to our sport #RestInPeace— David Dennis (@ddennistrainer) January 23, 2018
Very sad to hear the death of Richard Woollacott.... thoughts go to his family and friends, 40 is too young, life can be cruel #RIP— Harry Bannister (@harry_bann1310) January 23, 2018
Everyone at Racing Welfare is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Richard Woollacott. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and team.— Racing Welfare (@Racingwelfare) January 23, 2018
Tragic news that former point to point champion jockey now trainer Richard Woollacott has died at the age of 40. RIP— Derek Thompson (@tommoracing) January 23, 2018
Awful to hear of the passing of Richard Woollacott. Such a nice guy and a pleasure to have known. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time. RIP— Dan Skelton Racing (@DSkeltonRacing) January 23, 2018
We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Richard Woollacott. Our thoughts, as those of our colleagues around the Group, are with his family & friends— The Jockey Club (@TheJockeyClub) January 23, 2018
All of us here at Fontwell are incredibly saddened to hear the news about Richard Woollacott. An incredibly talented trainer.— Fontwell Park (@FontwellPark) January 23, 2018
Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/u5QfdqHFzN
In shock to hear about Richard Woollacott, the entire team at Holworthy send their thoughts and condolences to Richard’s family and friends #RIP— Jeremy R.M. Scott (@holworthyfarm) January 23, 2018