Breeders' Cup Presents Connections: 'In A World Where We Can Be Anything, We Should Be Better' - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: ‘In A World Where We Can Be Anything, We Should Be Better’

31-year-old trainer Alice Haynes and her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint contender Lady Hollywood

How does a young horse lover with no familial ties break into the racing industry?

If you're British-born Alice Haynes, you simply write a letter to one of the top trainers around and get to work.

A strong work ethic and an aversion to the word “no” have led Haynes, 31, to bring her first runner to the Breeders' Cup World Championships in just her second year with a trainer's license. She will saddle Group 3 winner Lady Hollywood in the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 4 at Keeneland, attempting to become just the eighth female trainer to send out a winner in the World Championships*.

“We've been very fortunate to get this far,” Haynes said. “This is my first proper season training and to be having a runner at the Breeders' Cup is unbelievable. It's all very exciting. We hope for a good draw and that the rain stays away!”

Haynes grew up outside of Ascot, but rode in Pony Club and three-day eventing competitions (eventually to the international three-star standard) throughout her youth.

“I've always liked to go fast,” Haynes joked. “If in doubt, go long! I enjoyed cross country very much, but eventing was very time consuming, especially up the levels. It was an expensive hobby!”

At just 15 years of age, she opted to ignore school advisors who'd warned against a career in horses, and instead wrote to prominent English trainer Henrietta Knight asking for a job. Knight, best known for her conditioning of three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate (2002-2004), gave Haynes a shot.

Haynes began working for Knight shortly thereafter, and was soon riding alongside the best of the best.

“She would be a woman who is probably a role model to anyone, whether you're male or female,” Haynes said. “At 16, I thought I'd made it. I was riding a horse named Cruising River upsides (20-time champion jockey Sir AP) McCoy, schooling, and thought, 'Yeah, this is it. Life's easy.'

“I was soon to think that it wasn't when she sent me off to Mick Channon's and I realized that I had to work a lot harder.”

For additional experience, Haynes spent a spell in Australia. She wound up deciding to pursue a career as a jockey and joined David Simcock's team at Newmarket with her amateur license. 

“I traveled the world for him with horses, which was a fabulous experience,” said Haynes. 

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She rode 11 winners, but quickly realized that career path was not what she wanted. Instead, she pivoted to begin a breaking and pre-training business, building up a clientele including Varian Stable, William Haggas and Blue Diamond Stud, among others.

Four years later, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage the industry in early 2021, Haynes rented a yard at the bottom of Newmarket's famous Warren Hill and launched her training career.

Haynes admitted: “Maybe it wasn't the cleverest, but it was sort of one of those deals where, 'Well, if not now, when?'” 

Her philosophy through the struggles of those earliest days was that determination, the ability to learn, and hard work can take her anywhere she wants to go.

“My advice to anyone getting into racing, especially girls, is to ask as many questions as possible,” Haynes told Girls In Racing. “You might annoy people, but you're always learning. Stick by your guns; if you think you're right about something, just keep on pursuing what you want. Boss it, basically. In a world where we can be anything, we should be better.”

She wound up saddling 20 winners in her first year; this season, Haynes has saddled a total of 43 winners.

While Haynes is particularly active on social media, it was ultimately a connection with football agent Kia Joorabchian and his Amo Racing that has helped bring her career to the next level.

Joorabchian sent the young trainer a then-2-year-old named Mr Professor, who Haynes promptly sent out to win his first two races under her banner. By Profitable, Mr Professor won a listed stakes race at the end of 2021, and went on to run second and third in Dubai.

This year, after Joorabchian's annual forays through the 2-year-old breeze-up sales, Haynes gravitated toward a plain chestnut daughter of Havana Grey. A relatively inexpensive purchase from the Tattersalls Craven sale, the filly didn't stand out on her looks.

“She wasn't that much to look at,” Haynes said. “She's very plain Jane, but she's also very professional. She's not an extravagant work horse, but she just got beat first time out, then second time she had an excuse, then she went on to win both her maiden and her novice back to back.”

Lady Hollywood won a listed stakes over five furlongs at Naas in her fifth career start, then attempted to step up to six furlongs in a Group 2 at York but didn't see out the trip. In her final start before the Breeders' Cup, Lady Hollywood returned to five furlongs and won Longchamp's Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg by 1 ¼ lengths.

Now, Lady Hollywood is scheduled to fly overseas on Saturday, Oct. 29, and take her first steps over the Keeneland soil on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Haynes will be aboard the filly, who is likely to go out alongside the charge of another young British female trainer, Amy Murphy. Murphy, 24, has Manhattan Jungle on the also-eligible list for the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

“It will be a great trip for both of us,” Haynes said. “We're friendly rivals.”

Haynes' primary hope for her first trip to the Breeders' Cup is that it doesn't wind up like her first trip to Keeneland. She traveled with Amazonas to the Lexington, Ky., track for trainer Ed Dunlop in the fall of 2013, saddling her in the G1 First Lady Stakes.

“Keeneland is so picturesque, just the heartland, so it was a great experience,” Haynes recalled. “Unfortunately, it poured down rain right before the race (Amazonas finished eighth and last on the yielding ground). I'd like it to stay dry and fast this time, please!”

Umberto Rispoli will ride Lady Hollywood for the first time in the Breeders' Cup, thanks to his familiarity with the course and style of American racing.

After the race, Lady Hollywood holds an entry in the Fasig-Tipton November sale, and if she does not sell, the filly will remain stateside to pursue the more lucrative opportunities for 3-year-old turf sprinters.

Thus, Haynes' focus is all-in for the Breeders' Cup.

“I do get quite nervous, but all at different stages,” she said. “There's her final work this week, then the flight there, then the last few days of training, but once we get to Friday morning (Nov. 4) and everything is good, it'll be a big relief.”

*Seven female trainers have won Breeders' Cup races, the first in 1986 when Hall of Famer Janet Elliot won the Steeplechase with Census (she won it again with Flat Top in 2002). In 1996, Jenine Sahadi won the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Lit de Justice and won again in 2007 with Elmhurst. In 2009, Carla Gaines also won the Sprint with Dancing in Silks. In 2010, Diane Morici saddled Marathon winner Eldaafer. In 2013, Jo Hughes sent out Marathon winner London Bridge and Kathy Ritvo became the first woman to train a Classic winner, Mucho Macho Man. Most recently, Maria Borell saddled 2015 Sprint winner Runhappy.

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