Jim Culloty and Best Mate after their third Gold Cup success in 2004PICTURE: Getty Images
Culloty leads tributes to retiring Henrietta Knight
JIM CULLOTY, who steered Best Mate to all three of his Gold Cup victories, has described Henrietta Knight as "a brilliant trainer", after it was revealed on Thursday morning that she will retire from the training ranks next month.
Culloty was attached to Knight's yard throughout his career and partnered Best Mate to 12 of his 14 career victories. He also partnered stablemate Edredon Bleu to a heart-warming success in the 2003 King George Chase.
"I rode some great horses and had some big winners, and it was nearly all down to Henrietta. I am 100 per cent indebted to her for the riding career I enjoyed," said Culloty, who now trains in Ireland.
He added: "She worked harder than any trainer I know, but she was simply brilliant at it."
Henrietta Knight: popular figurePICTURE: Getty Images
Both Best Mate and Edredon Bleu were owned by Jim Lewis and he believes other trainers have adopted the same philosophy that brought Knight success.
He said: "She endured criticism for theway that she treated Best Mate particularly, and her horses, wrapping them in cotton-wool, but it is interesting now that all the leading horses in jump racing follow a similar pattern in the main. That is a great compliment to her from the trainers I think."
Champion jockey Tony McCoy, who landed the 2000 Champion Chase aboard Edredon Bleu, tweeted his appreciation for the trainer, saying: "Very sad that Henrietta Knight is retiring. I will be forever grateful to her forgiving me some great days."
The majority of Knight's horses are expected to join Mick Channon, better known for association with high-class Flat horses, and he told his website: "As Hen has stated, I'll be inheriting some horses currently in her care and she'll now become an integral figure and a part of our team."
Get Friday's Racing Post for in-depth reaction to Henrietta Knight's retirement