Kayley Woollacott says the opportunity to go head-to-head with her training heroes at the Cheltenham Festival is a dream come true.
The Devon-based trainer is aiming to win the Arkle Chase in her first full season as a trainer with stable-star Lalor.
Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs and Mick Channon are amongst the trainers who have fancied runners in the race and Woollacott is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to take them on.
“This is something we’ve set out to do for ourselves this year,” she said in a recent video interview with Betway.
“One of the posters on my wall says you work until your idols become your rivals and that’s what we’ve really set out to do this season. It’ll be great to be in the paddock with them for the Arkle.”
Woollacott has endured a turbulent 14 months following the death of her husband, Richard, back in January 2018.
Richard took his own life as a result of mental health issues and Kayley eventually decided to take over the running of his stables.
She quickly enjoyed success, with Lalor winning impressively over hurdles at the Grand National meeting last April.
The horse was switched to fences this season and ran out a ready winner of a Grade 2 chase at Cheltenham during November.
A defeat behind Dynamite Dollars on unsuitable ground at Sandown in December hasn’t dampened Woollacott’s enthusiasm for Lalor and she believes he will be ready to roll at the Festival.
“We haven’t had Lalor out since Sandown, primarily because the ground at Doncaster for the ‘Lightning’ (during January) was on the quicker side,” she added.
“We didn’t feel it was a risk worth taking. He’s done plenty of work since and did a lovely racecourse gallop at Exeter.”
Top jockey Richard Johnson will be the man on board at Cheltenham having ridden the horse to victory on three previous occasions.
He admits that the race will be an emotional occasion for the Woollacott stable and he is eager to secure a memorable success.
“Every Cheltenham Festival is very, very important – any winner there is a massive day,” he said. “But the Arkle is one of the top class races – one of the Grade 1s.
“Obviously for Kayley and the team, in memory of Richard, it would be a very poignant moment if he could get his head in front.”