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RACING: Knight proud of lucky Jim
Henrietta Knight, who trained Best Mate to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups under Jim Culloty, was thrilled to see her former stable jockey land chasing’s blue riband with Lord Windermere.
Knight, who is recovering from a broken right ankle, watched from her West Lockinge home, near Wantage, as Lord Windermere, trained by Culloty at Churchtown, near Mallow, in County Cork, claimed a dramatic short-head victory on Friday.
She felt the 40-year-old Irishman had learnt a lot not just about riding from her late husband, Terry Biddlecombe, who died in January, but also about training horses during his time at West Lockinge.
Knight said: “Terry would have been so proud of Jim.
“During Terry’s illness over the past six months, Jim was a huge supporter to us both and often came over from Ireland and stayed here.”
When asked what she thought Culloty, who used to live at Stanford in the Vale, learnt about training horses from his time at her yard, Knight added: “Plenty of patience. Teaching horses to jump because he has a lovely place for jumping, and buying horses with the right pedigree.
“I think he has been lucky to build a beautiful yard in Cork. Terry and I went to see it.
“He has some good owners and he is a very intelligent person and he is very interested and he analyses performances.
"He often rings me up and asks me about things and he has kept in close contact.”
Knight was also delighted for Lord Windermere’s jockey, Davy Russell, who spent a summer at West Lockinge.
She added: “He used to jump my young horses in the showjumping field and was always a natural horseman. We were very fond of him.”
Despite her injury, Knight went to the Festival for the first two days, and presented the trophies for the Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase.
The contest was won by Midnight Prayer, trained by Alan King, although a shadow was cast over the victory as owner-breeder John Reynolds suffered a heart attack about an hour beforehand.
King reported the following day that Reynolds appeared to be on the road to recovery.
Knight added that Queen Mother Champion Chase second Somersby, her former star now trained by Mick Channon at West Ilsley, could go for the Celebration Chase at Sandown or the Punchestown Champion Chase.
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