Henrietta Knight, who was born in December 1946, has lived for the major part of her life in the village of Lockinge in Oxfordshire. After sharing a blissfully happy childhood with her adored younger sister, Celia, and surrounded by animals predominantly ponies, she decided upon further education and obtained a teaching degree B.Ed (Oxford).
During her 10 years of teaching history and biology at a local girls’ boarding school, Hen’s passion for horses remained strong and she continued to pursue her eventing interests. Indeed in 1973, she was 12th in the Badminton 3 Day Event. In the 1980’s Hen became Chairman of the British Horse Trials Selection Committee and travelled to numerous countries with the teams including to the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Great Britain won individual and team silver medals. It was at this time too, that her interest in horseracing developed further. In her spare time being a competent rider, she broke in and educated a number of future N.H. stars for the likes of champion trainer Fred Winter and for triple Grand National winning trainer Captain Tim Forster. Hen also trained horses for Point to Points and registered over 100 winners in this sphere. Hen was always fascinated by fitness and the preparation of horses for key competitions but she also enjoyed judging at numerous horse shows and her eye for a horse developed further through assessing thousands of different horses and ponies at many different venues. She officiated at most of the major County Shows as well as judging at the Horse of the Year Show, Olympia and the RDS (Dublin) horse show.
In 1989 Miss H. C. Knight appeared as a licensed trainer on the racecards at race meetings and this licence was not relinquished until 2012 due to the ill health of her husband Terry Biddlecombe – the triple Champion N.H. jockey of the 1960s.
She adored Terry and he assisted her in all her training exploits for 20 years. Hen recorded over 700 winners as a trainer and there were some memorable moments. Yet Hen modestly states that “if it had not been for Best Mate winning 3 consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups – 2002, 2003 and 2004 – as well as Edredon Bleu winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2000, then most probably nobody would ever have heard of me but those 2 horses put me on the map. They were stars”.
However, during Hen’s training years there were many other good horses to pass through the West Lockinge Farm training yard including Karshi (Stayers Hurdle Cheltenham 1997), Lord Noelie (Sun Alliance Chase Cheltenham 2000), Calgary Bay (Skybet Chase Doncaster 2012), Racing Demon (Peterborough Chase Huntingdon 2006 and 2007), Somersby (Victor Chandler Chase Ascot 2012), and Impek (Old Roan Chase Aintree 2005 and the Peterborough Chase Huntingdon 2005).
In 2002 Hen was voted Horserace Writers and Photographers N.H. Trainer of the Year and in 2014 Channel 4’s Racing Personality of the Year.
When Terry Biddlecombe died in 2014, Hen Knight’s involvement in the racing world was for a few years considerably curtailed. Terry had possessed an amazing way with people and had been the backbone of her life. His popularity on the racecourses with jockeys and owners was immeasurable.
Fortunately, he passed on a lot of his traits to Hen, in particular, positive thinking and this has now helped her to build a new life linked to National Hunt Racing – “Even though I now work on my own, I am still involved in racing and follow the day to day happenings very closely. The 2 most recent books, that I wrote since giving up training have given me a fresh insight into jump racing. The Racing Game – How Trainers Work – and Starting From Scratch – explaining how jockeys came into the game were fun to write and my research was extremely revealing. I met some fascinating characters and visited numerous different training yards many of which are beautifully constructed and unbelievably modern.
At times, when I look back – I wonder how I ever managed to train 80+ horses in the little farmyard at Lockinge – but we always had superb jumping facilities for the racehorses and these are still meticulously maintained to a high standard.
The jumping aspect of N.H. Racing has always fascinated me.
If a horse cannot jump properly it cannot win races.
Nowadays, I am fortunate to be supported by a vast cross section of trainers. Numerous racehorses still pass through the yard and it gives me a great kick to see some of them winning after time spent in my care.
The re-schooling and jumping of N.H. horses are the keys in my new life as well as the buying of horses for owners and helping jockeys when they come here to ride the Lockinge inmates. Most of the jockeys I use are already top class horsemen/or women and are good to watch on young horses as well as on horses that have lost their confidence.
Personally, I love horses and I love racing. I also enjoy talking to people and explaining to them how a system works. The newly created Henrietta Knight Racing Club will give its members a new insight into the sport and enlighten them further as to what goes on behind the scenes.
We want the future to be FUN and we aim to have many enjoyable days on the racecourses”.