Mate hat-trick a Knight highlight
Henrietta Knight with Best Mate after his third Gold Cup triumph
Henrietta Knight has pinpointed Best Mate's Cheltenham Gold Cup hat-trick as an obvious pinnacle of her achievements, but also underlined the success of Edredon Bleu.
The trainer is reflecting on her career after announcing her retirement.
She told Sky Sports News: "The highlight has to be Best Mate's third Gold Cup - that was a huge thrill. Edredon Bleu winning the Champion Chase in 2000 with AP (McCoy), that was great."
Knight is bowing out from the training ranks, largely to spend time with her husband Terry Biddlecombe, adding: "Terry hasn't been terribly well and he had a stroke last autumn and doesn't get around quite as much as he used to. It's difficult for me to do trips to racing and go away from home. Now I'm 65 it's probably time to hand over to younger people. We've had some marvellous times in racing and I've thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. We've had some wonderful days."
Mick Channon will take over the bulk of Knight's string, and told www.mickchannon.tv: "I've been friends with Hen and Terry for many years and, as a near neighbour, their help has been invaluable as we frequently use their schooling grounds to prepare many of our Flat horses for the next stages of their careers.
"In return, Hen has been a frequent visitor to West Ilsley where she's used Hodcott Down on a regular basis. Gilbert's Gallop on Hodcott is a true test and ideal for conditioning work - Best Mate among many others was a regular visitor in his heyday. As Hen has stated, I will be inheriting some of the horses currently in her care and she will now become an integral figure and a part of our team at West Ilsley. It's with a sense of real anticipation and excitement that I look forward to the coming months and seasons ahead."
Edward Gillespie, the outgoing chairman of Cheltenham racecourse, believes Knight and Best Mate were instrumental in helping the sport recover from a nightmare year when the Festival was cancelled due to foot and mouth in 2001.
He said: "I have been lucky enough to have know Henrietta for years, even before she trained under Rules and just had point-to-pointers. She goes about her business in her own way and does not necessarily follow everybody else when she trains her horses, but she would never send one to the track unless it was 100% perfect.
"I think from my point of view, the way she dealt with Best Mate is a particularly nice memory. She was so open with the horse and would have these extraordinary open days at West Lockinge when thousands of people would take over the house and the stable. She was so generous with her treasures. So often horses are trained behind closed doors, as I might well do, but she and Terry were so open with Best Mate.
"Just as Red Rum saved the Grand National, Best Mate helped us to re-establish racing after foot and mouth in 2001. The Queen came to watch and they were memorable years. So often Henrietta was happy to stand behind Jim Culloty, Jim Lewis and Terry and let them get on with it - they were a bit of a crazy gang! But when she had something to say, you listened as she was such a considered woman."
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