Well-known trainer Richard Woollacott passes away at the age of 40
Trainer Richard Woollacott died on Tuesday morning, aged 40, it has been announced.
Based at South Molton in Devon, Woollacott hit the headlines in December when Beer Goggles claimed victory in the Grade Two Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in the hands of champion jockey Richard Johnson.
A spokesman for Richard Woollacott Racing said in a statement to Press Association Sport: "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 began training point-to-point horses in 2005, saddling over 130 winners, and he was also a keen rider in that sphere, claiming over 100 victories.
He was crowned champion point-to-point rider in Britain in 2010, as well as taking the regional title for Devon and Cornwall on multiple occasions.
Woollacott then switched his attention to training under rules, taking out his licence in June 2012 before saddling 16 winners in the 2012/13 campaign.
He sent out 24 winners in the following three seasons, but enjoyed a breakthrough moment at last year's Grand National meeting at Aintree as Lalor sprang a 33-1 shock in the Grade Two bumper in a campaign that yielded 13 winners.
The current season had also started well for Woollacott, with Beer Goggles' Long Distance Hurdle success propelling him up the ante-post market for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
That horse holds an entry in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, while Lalor is vying for favouritism in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 10.
Daryl Jacob, who often rode for Woollacott, was among the first to pay tribute.
He 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."
Fellow trainer Brendan Powell also expressed his sadness, tweeting: "Shocking and horrible news to hear of the passing of Richard. Thoughts are with his family. RIP."
The Jockey Club also offered its condolences on Twitter.
A statement read: "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 and friends."
Cheltenham racecourse added: "Such sad news. Our thoughts are with Richard's family and friends at this difficult time."