The Racing Life of Kate Hazard
Updated: Jan 21
Racing is in Kate Hazard’s, nee Hanson, blood. ‘My dad Keith Hanson was a jockey for trainer Arthur Stevens – he rode a winner on his third ride on Fog Bound,’ explains Kate. ‘My mum Jane was a groom and that's how they met.’
Keith and Jane Hanson, alongside Kate and Duncan Hazard at Doncaster Sales
It sounds like a love story, similar to the one Kate, 33, has had with the sport of horseracing. As a racing school recruit, Kate initially settled into life in Gloucestershire. It was more than learning the ropes with the horses, riding and racing: it was the whole package of a sport within which the people became friends and drinking partners. ‘I’ll never forget the social life we had during my time in the Cotswolds: cheesy discos down the Hollow Bottom, Irish nights down the Halfway and I lived in the Plough.’
Then there were the winners that were naturally and brazenly celebrated. Kate led up her first winner, Alright Now M’Lad, at Plumpton in early 2006 – a humble beginning for a groom who went on to lead in many big winners. The first famous name she was associated with was the talented Wichita Lineman, who won her two at the Cheltenham Festival, most notably that ride of the century by AP McCoy in the William Hill Trophy. Then, there was the amazingly talented Albertas Run and the diminutive but brave Holywell and beautiful Taquin du Seuil, who both were part of Kate’s most memorable Cheltenham Festival. Well Sharp won the Ascot Stakes at the Royal Meeting in 2013, she took Shutthefrontdoor as a ‘spare’ to Fairyhouse for his 2014 Irish Grand National success and the trooper Kingswell Theatre won the Glenfarclas Cross Country race at the 2017 Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham.
Yet, life is now a little bit different but not necessarily quieter. Since last year, Kate is a permit holder and trains three horses: The Wild Westerner (Harry), Booley Beach (Booley) and the newest recruit, Deja Rouge (Rupert) bought from Doncaster sales this September out of Gordon Elliot’s yard. Harry, notoriously difficult to keep sound, was bought to go ‘pointing but then covid hit, so, fully fit, he was shipped over to Laura Morgan’s successful yard and won a bumper. ‘I was concussed after being in a car crash so I couldn’t go racing that day but it meant a lot to the whole family. Duncan proposed as Harry crossed the line in front,’ Kate grins at the memories behind that ordinary bumper at their local track.
Booley was at last year’s October sales but was unsold through the ring so Kate purchased her a couple of days later. The mare was Kate’s first runner as a trainer and has finished third in both her outings over hurdles so far.
The aforementioned Duncan married Kate in June 2022. Duncan is not horsey as such; his family breed pedigree Limousin cattle and are arable farmers. Duncan is also part of a company called Agrismart, who provide water solutions for farmers in the form of huge tanks. ‘The Hazard family have always loved racing and I’ve just brought racing right to them,’ chuckles Kate, hinting at the three racehorses she trains as well as the pet of Tony the Pony, a little piebald rescue. She also runs a yard in which she has horses for holidays, rehabilitation and recouperation.
Duncan and Kate live in Saltby, Leicestershire, with his family farm situated in the neighbouring village. They have two rescue dogs, Percy and Smithy and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first child at the end of May.
Racing has given Kate many vibrant, vivid memories. Her racing career has gone full circle – from little racecourses to the big days and back to the smaller venues as she starts off her own training venture. Yet, something somewhere whispers that those big days aren’t gone forever – that they’ll return and will be the next glossy chapter in Kate’s racing life.
Did you have a horsey childhood? Dad has always loved racing and as we lived in a little Lincolnshire village, we used to go to Market Rasen a lot. I was never that much into horses until I went to Saxilby Riding School, where I helped out and mucked out in return for lessons. My favourite pony was a fat little strawberry roan called Peaches. I never had my own ponies or did Pony Club or hunting.
How did you get into racing? In 2005, on my 16th birthday, I went to the Northern Horseracing College in Doncaster to start their 12-week course. It really was the best weeks of my life. I never felt I fitted in to the inner-city school I had gone to. I was a country girl so at the racing school, I never looked back.
What roles have you had in racing? From the racing school, I went to Jonjo O’Neill’s. Dad arranged it after approaching Jonjo at Market Rasen, asking him if I could go and work there. Dad had ridden at the same time as Jonjo so knew him.
I was then assistant trainer to Michael Scudamore, before going to Laura Morgan's for a year and then I worked at a friend's stud farm.
Have you had any other roles within racing? In about May 2019, I got a trainee job as a race day assistant for the British Horseracing Authority. I was training as a Clerk of the Scales and a Judge in case someone, like a steward, didn't make it. I loved working for the BHA, I learnt so much and it toughened me up but I missed horses and working closely with them.
Which is your favourite racecourse? Market Rasen as it’s always been my local track, and Cheltenham, where I've been very lucky and there's no buzz like it.
Who’s your favourite jockey? Tabitha Worsley – she's been so helpful with my horses and is a great friend. We met through the cheeky chap Go West Young Man at Laura’s, who she got on so well with. I always loved watching Noel Fehily and AP McCoy.
What have been your favourite racehorse? Where do I start?!
Parkinson – my first love and won me two races at Leicester. I nicknamed him ‘Parky’.
Wichita Lineman – I rode him daily after his bumper season and he won me two at the Cheltenham Festival.
Albertas Run – my friend Lisa looked after ‘Burt’ before me and he won her the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the 2008 Festival. When Lisa left, I got him and he won me two Ryanairs and was robbed of a third by half a length to Riverside Theatre. He was also talented round Aintree, winning a Melling Chase in April ’10 and an Old Roan in October ’11 and was often placed there.
Holywell – he was an absolute babe, and squealed and bucked every day, giving me many grey hairs. ‘Holy Moly’ was tiny but had a great big heart. He won me the Baylis & Harding Chase at the 2014 Festival and also the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, beating Don Cossack by ten lengths. He’s another one that I rode daily and I was especially proud after that Aintree win. I knew he was flying at home beforehand.
Taquin du Seuil – whom I called ‘Tykes’ and another I also rode every day and took racing. He won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle and the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival. 2014 was an unforgettable year as I led up two winners and More Of That won the Wordle Hurdle.
Now, it’s my own The Wild Westerner (Harry) who was our first ever winner when with my friend Laura Morgan and Booley Beach, who was my first ever runner under my own name. Both horses are very important for my whole family.
Kate with Taquin du Seuil, Shutthefrontdoor and Well Sharp
What’s been your favourite winner? The Wild Westerner winning that bumper. Dad and I had done everything with him before he went to Laura’s. plus, Laura is a great friend so it was great to give her a winner. Maybe, he’ll be the first winner I’ll train in my own name…
What is your favourite racecourse canteen? Wetherby for the roast dinners and Catterick, for its amazing cakes.
Who is your racing hero? Jonjo O'Neill. I loved him as a boss but I also loved him long before I worked for him and led up all those winners in his name. Working for him were the best ten years ever.
But mostly it’s my Dad – his love for racing is infectious. Mum and Dad help out four times a week, mucking out, riding etc. My Dad still schools and rides out at sixty-five; he watches racing every day. He loves the game so much and helps me enormously. Not just now but so much over the years, including picking me up every other weekend and on Christmas Day at Jonjo’s before I learnt to drive. I owe my parents everything!
What is the best part of working in racing? All the laughs. Meeting people throughout the country that I'll always be friends with. Coral Eastment, Jenny Carr, Lisa Berry, Donna Power and Vicki Howell, whom I was bridesmaid for last Christmas, are five best friends I met through racing. I don't see them enough but they will always be there in my life.
And the worst part? Losing a horse you love.
What was the best racing celebration you’ve had? Don’t Push It’s Grand National party in a marquee at the Plough pub. Then again, any celebration after a Festival win – actually any big winner – were always wild. Actually...make that any winner!
What's been your best day out of racing? My wedding day. We got married in the church and then had the after party, which went on for two days, on the family farm.
Kate and Wichita Lineman at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival
Favourite meal: I absolutely love food. And I’m torn between a roast dinner or Thai but I'll say Thai.
Favourite drink: Gin and ginger ale. Yorkshire Tea!
Favourite snack: Anything chocolatey or cake. I have a massive sweet tooth. Tea with sugars and a packet of biscuits is blissful.
Favourite TV programme: The Yellowstone series on Netflix.
Favourite music: The Killers, Elbow and Coldplay (I walked down the aisle to One Day Like This and when Wichita lineman won, Channel 4 Racing played it as he jumped the last so there are many good memories associated with this song). I also love any country music, especially Garth Brooks.
Favourite holiday destination: I don't really go on holiday but I had an amazing honeymoon in Mauritius this summer.
Other interests: Gardening and chickens (I like to rescue ex-battery hens).