There's no stopping the odd couple

Henrietta Knight and Terry Biddlecombe are now a formidable combination
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The Independent Online

They were racing's most unlikely couple when they married three years ago, the well-spoken Henrietta Knight and the drink-damaged Terry Biddlecombe, the sport's Posh and wrecked if you like.

They were racing's most unlikely couple when they married three years ago, the well-spoken Henrietta Knight and the drink-damaged Terry Biddlecombe, the sport's Posh and wrecked if you like.

As one, however, they have formed a significant team fighting out of the West Lockinge Farm near Wantage and yesterday came their greatest moment of all with a double here in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

Biddlecombe remains one of the great heroes of the National Hunt game even if the former champion jockey has not ridden a horse in anger for almost 30 years. These days he quietly assists his trainer wife, though the mantle of one of the sport's great buccaneering figures still hangs on him.

Biddlecombe used to be a fearless figure either on horseback or the bar stool. The talent was such that he was stable jockey to both Fred Rimell and Fulke Walwyn and he won the Gold Cup here on Woodland Venture in 1967.

On his last ride at the Festival, in the Cathcart Chase which used to close the meeting, his fellow riders conspired to ensure Biddlecombe was last to the start. He was applauded from the stands every step of the way as went down on Amarind.

They still love Terry and he probably went home with shaker's cramp last night. He looks as he always did, a face shaped and coloured by various forces in the early morning and late at night, but the clothes are a bit different these days. Tweeds, don't you know, and a brown trilby hat.

Biddlecombe may have raised hell, and indeed probably put it through school, but the times when he went walkabout, appropriately enough in Australia, are now well behind him. He doesn't drink, but he must have wished he'd saved a couple for the champagne moments of yesterday.

Henrietta Knight cut an interesting figure too in muddied Emma Peel boots and pearls. She has exotica of her own. The sister-in-law of Lord Vestey, the chairman of Cheltenham, and the third Mrs Biddlecombe, she taught biology at Reading Grammar School. A former leading participant in the point-to-point field, Knight has built up a solid reputation after just 10 years with a licence.

And we must not forget the horses which gave Team Lockinge their fourth and fifth Festival winners. Edredon Bleu did well to win a crackling Queen Mother Champion Chase considering the prissy name he takes into battle with him. A translation as blue eiderdown is hardly the stuff to terrify the snorting chargers of racing's sprint-chasing division. A great feature of this race was the torrid climax and the symmetry in the finish of Norman Williamson and Tony McCoy, on the winner. It seemed iniquitous that the former was punished for his efforts.

For the stable jockey, Jim Culloty, it was a first Festival success when Lord Noelie captured the Royal & SunAlliance Chase. The 26-year-old jockey immediately felt the benefits that such a success can bring. "To ride a winner here is just an unbelievable feeling," he said. "I've suddenly got an amazing number of friends.

"I thought it was imperative that he jumped the last three well and he did. He was going to win or lose the race from the last and luckily he put in a flyer. Luckily I'm not riding tomorrow so I'll be able to celebrate."

Knight and Biddlecombe will toast a little more soberly and contemplate further riches and further glories ahead. "I decided to run when I heard the farming forecast on Sunday and the ground was obviously going to be in his favour," the trainer said. "He must have decent ground to jump off.

"This brings thoughts of lots of things, including the Grand National. He'll stay all day and is very honest. We'll consider running him at Aintree next month because he loves this spring ground. But this is the day of my life, winning two such important races here."

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