Henrietta Knight to return to training ranks

Henrietta Knight, who saddled Best Mate to three straight Cheltenham Gold Cup triumphs, is poised for a return to the training ranks in the new year.

The 76-year-old is best known for her hat-trick of victories in the blue riband event between 2002 and 2004 but was also the trainer of Champion Chase hero Edredon Bleu, who similarly carried the colours of Best Mate’s owner Jim Lewis.

Knight, who was married to former champion jump jockey Terry Biddlecombe, retired in 2012 but has remained involved in the sport by running a pre-training business and also being an active figure at the sales.

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Henrietta Knight with Best Mate
Henrietta Knight with Best Mate (David Davies/PA)

However, she will now recommence training under rules from her West Lockinge base, where she hopes to train around 25-30 horses.

Knight will be assisted by Grand National-winning jockey Brendan Powell, who was a trainer in his own right before serving as assistant to Joseph O’Brien and Rebecca Menzies in recent years, and he is excited to link-up with such a distinguished name in racing.

“I’ve known Hen for 30-odd years and was good friends with Terry,” said Powell.

“I came over here to Rebecca’s and it sort of hasn’t really worked out and Hen mentioned to me in the week that she was thinking if she got the horses, she wouldn’t mind training again and asked if I would consider going down and helping out.

“I had a few chats with her and we decided that I would give it a go and see what happens.”

He went on: “I know she has applied for the licence and there should be no reason why she wouldn’t get it.

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“It’s a good place there and my son Brendan rides out there along with Paul O’Brien and James Bowen. She’s always busy and always got plenty of horses in and she is hoping to get around 25-30 horses, which would be just a nice number. We will give it a go and see what happens.

“She has been a great trainer over the years and with the horses she has had. It’s obviously not going to be as big as that now, but I’m sure we can get some nice owners together – she has a few already – and we will see if we can build on that.”

Knight told Telegraph Sport: “People will probably think I’m mad starting again when most people are stopping, but I like doing things and I miss the buzz.

“Cheltenham’s where I love and I can’t wait to get back there. The emphasis will be on trying to find a few chasers to take me back to Cheltenham. I’m very excited and want to get going.”

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