Knight's tale will always be one of great generosity – Gillespie
CHELTENHAM Racecourse boss Edward Gillespie has hailed the "generosity" of Henrietta Knight after she announced she was retiring from training.
Gillespie, outgoing managing director of Prestbury Park, said Knight had allowed the public to share in the unforgettable success of her three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate.
Knight announced her retirement yesterday, citing husband Terry Biddlecombe's continued ill health following a stroke as a factor in the decision.
Gillespie said: "For me the thing that lives long in the memory is not actually Best Mate winning all those Gold Cups, which was extraordinary, but the generosity with which she shared his success, particularly the open days at her stable.
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"Now a lot of trainers have owners days, but there aren't many open days.
"People could go around her house, into the stables, wherever they wanted – thousands went.
"She enjoyed sharing Best Mate, Edredon Bleu and all her other good horses with the public.
"Her training methods seemed old-fashioned, I expect, and she had her own way of doing things.
"But she never sent a horse to the races unless everything was absolutely right.
"Seeing her and Terry running towards each other and embracing after Best Mate's wins was part of a magical time."
Gillespie said it is hoped his own successor will be appointed by the end of July.
Knight, based in Oxfordshire, Knight began training in July 1989 and secured her first winner, The Grey Gunner, at Bangor a month later.
Despite her defining association with Best Mate, Knight was also responsible for Edredon Bleu, who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in 2000 and the King George VI Chase at Kempton in 2003.
Knight said: "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."
The majority of Knight's current string of horses will be trained by her near neighbour Mick Channon.