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  Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:36 GMT
Knight's day of glory
Best Mate's owner Jim Lewis and the jockey Jim Culloty shower trainer Henrietta Knight with kisses
Knight was the centre of attention at Cheltenham
BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown profiles Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Henrietta Knight.

Henrietta Knight must have been feeling pretty confident ahead of Best Mate's successful attempt to win the 2002 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Why else would Knight, a famously nervous trainer at the races who usually cannot bear to witness her charges run, manage to watch Best Mate clear all 22 fences and come home first?

The seven-year-old horse has been the apple of the trainer's eye ever since husband Terry Biddlecombe spotted him in a point-to-point in Ireland in 1999.

Even then, Knight was describing him as "my idea of a perfect racehorse" - and her renowned judgement was spot on.

Henrietta Knight
Born: 15 December 1946
1984: First winner under rules - Matt Murphy (Towcester)
1989: First winner as licence holder - The Grey Gunner (Bangor)
Most winners in a season: 59 (1995/96)

Festival record
1997: Karshi - Stayers' Hurdle
1998: Edredon Bleu - Grand Annual
2000: Edredon Bleu - Champion Chase
2000: Lord Noelie - SunAlliance Chase
2002: Best Mate - Gold Cup
The 55-year-old trainer got her National Hunt licence in 1989 after having a hugely successful career training on the point-to-point scene.

But it has been since she teamed up with Biddlecombe that her career as a jumps trainer has really taken off.

On the surface, the couple - who married in 1995 - would appear to be an unlikely match.

Knight comes from a well-connected and privileged country family.

A former school mistress, she is the sister-in-law of Lord Vestey, who is chairman of the Cheltenham set-up, and has headed the selection committee for the British three-day eventing team at the 1988 Olympics.

The charismatic three-time ex-champion jockey Biddlecombe has lived life in the fast lane and is anything but genteel.

However, he and Knight actually have much in common - not least their passion for horses - and seem to complement each other perfectly.

Previously there had been a hint of over-protectiveness in the way Knight ran her horses.

Terry Biddlecombe
Biddlecombe's role cannot be underestimated
But Biddlecombe has injected the West Lockinge yard with a dose of racing realism which has now borne fruit.

Not that Biddlecombe is unsentimental - he tearfully admitted that Thursday's triumph was more special than his victory as a jockey in the race 35 years ago.

"There is so much more that goes into training the horse than there is into riding him in a race," he says.

"I feed Best Mate every morning - he is my friend."

If there is one hint of sadness to the Gold Cup victory, it is that Knight's mother, who died last November, was not around to see Best Mate's Cheltenham triumph.

Hester Knight had been her daughter's biggest supporter and as the Gold Cup-winning trainer herself said after Thursday's triumph: "She would have been very proud."

Cheltenham stages its big jump race meeting from 12-14 March

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See also:

11 Feb 03 | Cheltenham Festival
14 Mar 02 | Cheltenham Festival
Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories are at the foot of the page.


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