Knight manoeuvres at Lingfield
Henrietta Knight might have retired last year but her influence on jump racing continued through two of the winners on the card at Lingfield.
- Related Content
Although the exciting Sgt Reckless has only raced under the care of Knight's friend and near-neighbour Mick Channon, who took on many of the horses when the triple Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer relinquished her licence at the end of May, he has strong links to the old operation.
Carrying the colours of Tim and Camilla Radford, who remain Channon patrons with ex-Knight stars Somersby and Calgary Bay, Sgt Reckless (13/8) coasted home on his debut in the spring and had no problems coping with a 7lb penalty in division two of the Forest Row Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Knight, who was joined by husband Terry Biddlecombe in the winner's enclosure, still assists Channon and is clearly excited about the giant six-year-old.
She said: "I've just been on the phone to Mrs Radford, she says he'll go for the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham and won't go for any more bumpers."
Channon's son, Michael jnr, said: "I'm chuffed. He'd been looking after all the yearlings and we'd done nothing with him for ages.
"He's a freak, as he's not bred to be any good, and is the biggest horse we've ever had."
Ballygarvey (9/4) had looked to have a bright future when winning for Knight over hurdles exactly a year ago, but failed to build on that during the campaign and is now with Philip Hobbs.
A return to Lingfield initiated a complete change in him, as he ran away with division one of the Ted Long Challenge Cup Handicap Chase.
"He was a bit keen to start with, but once he got going he was good," said jockey Tom O'Brien.
"He was with Henrietta, who had schooled him fantastically well. It took him time to settle in, but he looks exciting."
Sir Alex Ferguson made a surprise visit to watch division one of the all-weather bumper, but only arrived by the skin of his teeth after a long journey.
His horse I'm Fraam Govan won on his previous start at Worcester at a time when the Manchester United manager would have had other distractions, as the league title had slipped to Manchester City on the dramatic afternoon of May 13.
Sent off the 4/9 favourite, I'm Fraam Govan and Andrew Tinkler appeared to be cruising around the home bend but weakened back into fifth.
Trainer George Baker said: "Tinks felt he wasn't letting himself down on the surface, which is disappointing as he worked well on the Polytrack at Kempton."
The finish was fought out between two newcomers, Paul Webber's Koolala (25/1) sticking her neck ahead of Bobbyjack under Dominic Elsworth, who had also taken division two.
"She had been going well at home and has some good Kayf Tara stamina in there," said Webber.
"I might keep her under wraps until the mares' bumper at Sandown in the spring."
It was credit to the Surrey course to have managed to stage a competitive card with the hurdle races already called off from a meeting which used to be at Folkestone.
A resolute Sunny Ledgend (5/1) defied the 2/5 favourite Maringo Bay in the Marsh Green Beginners' Chase for father and son Andrew and James Martin, who are better known from point-to-point racing.
Martin snr, who trains near Chipping Norton, said: "It was his first time over regulation fences and he was very green and idling. I think it helped when the other horse came alongsides."
Division two of the Ted Long Challenge Cup went to another family to be deeply involved in the pointing sphere.
Trainer Ray York and his son Phil are stalwarts of the south-eastern division, as is Ringa Bay (7/1) who rallied back past Goring Two in a continually-changing race.
Owner Mike Kehoe said: "He was in good form in point-to-points and would win a hunter chase, not a strong one, but we thought he'd have a chance in handicaps.
"Not surprisingly Phil said he'd handle a longer trip. The horse pulls his way to the start, and is a law unto himself!"
Conditional jockey James Banks earned the plaudits after a determined ride on Lough Coi (5/1) in the lingfieldpark.co.uk Maiden Chase, but was given a four-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level (January 18, 20-22).