Henrietta Knight’s new role takes off

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Business is booming for National Hunt’s leading lady, Henrietta “Hen” Knight, who handed in her trainers’ licence last May to focus on preparing young horses for racing and eventing.

Hen, who trained Best Mate to win three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, wound down her National Hunt career just over six months ago to spend more time with her husband Terry Biddlecombe, who suffered a stroke last year.

“We have around 25 horses in at the moment, but there is room for more,” Hen told H&H. “We have a mixture of youngsters to start off and older horses who have had problems jumping.”

Hen has teamed up with renowned racing and eventing coach Yogi Breisner, who visits her West Lockinge yard weekly.

“Yogi and I sing off the same hymn sheet. We both believe that any horse’s jump can be improved with the correct training,” she said.

“We have fantastic facilities here — a loose jumping pen, cross-country fences and acres of hacking — so our horses enjoy life and get a well-rounded education. It’s satisfying to see them go on and do well.”

When Hen retired, most of her string went to her neighbour, trainer Mick Channon. The pair continue to work closely together with Flat horses and jumpers.

“Dominic [Elsworth, the yard’s regular jockey] does a lot of the schooling, but I have also taken on a couple of event riders to help with pre-training,” said Hen.

“We have Mary Edmundson here at the moment and [national under-21 champion] Lucy Loughton spent a few months with us last autumn.

“Event riders tend to be good with racehorses. They are prepared to take the time to educate them and give them confidence.”

Hen, also a prolific showing judge, is still overseeing the production of her home-bred Connemara youngstock.

“There’s certainly enough going on at the moment. In the future I would like to run some one-day training clinics here for grass-roots riders covering flatwork and jumping, and maybe some showing masterclasses,” she said.

This news story was first published was in the current issue of H&H (10 January 2013)

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk