Cheltenham Festival trainer Kayley Woollacott on why mental health in horse racing must improve

Horse trainer Kayley Woollacott. Credit: ITV News West Country

A race horse trainer whose husband took his own life has called on the horse racing industry to be more compassionate.

The West Country racing community was left shocked and saddened when 40-year-old Richard Woollacott was found dead at his yard in Rose Ash, near South Molton, in January 2018, following a battle with his mental health.

His wife, Kayley, described the past 12 months as “tough” but said she and her family were now firmly “on the other side”.

And with a number of her horses due to compete at this week’s Cheltenham Festival, including top tip Lalor, Kayley has called for the horse racing industry to improve its understanding and acceptance of mental health issues.

Kayley said seven-year-old Lalor, who was one of Richard’s favourite horses, has helped keep her going during a difficult year.

Tuesday’s Arkle favourite will bring the house down at Cheltenham with emotional scenes if he manages to get the job done under champion jump jockey Richard Johnson.

Lalor. Credit: ITV News West Country

Lalor is not only a favourite among the bookies but also Kayley’s daughter Bella.

Nicknamed ‘the little trainer’, the feisty three-year-old has gained a following online after helping her mum with the horses on the yard.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is, there are several organisations that can provide help and support: