By Simon Jackson
The National Hunt Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival will this year be run in honour of three-time champion jump jockey Terry Biddlecome who died in January aged 72.
Biddlecombe rode 908 winners in a 17 year career that included nine Cheltenham victories and was highlighted by the success of the Fred Rimell-trained Woodland Venture in the 1967 Gold Cup.
In 1995 he married trainer Henrietta Knight. The pair combined to create one of the leading national hunt yards in the country, producing a string of big race winners that included Best Mate, winner of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Cheltenham Gold Cup and the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Edredon Bleu.
“It is a great honour that Cheltenham is naming the National Hunt Chase after Terry this year,” Knight said.
“He would have been very touched. Cheltenham always was his favourite racecourse.
“I would just like to thank everyone involved for making this possible.”
Ian Renton, regional director of the south west region of The Jockey Club, added: “Terry always loved Cheltenham and I’m sure had many happy memories from the course, both during his riding career and the years when he and Henrietta were training.
“We all remember the mighty Best Mate but some of the older racing fraternity will also remember his Gold Cup win on Woodland Venture in the 60s. It is only fitting therefore, that he is remembered at this year’s Festival.”
The four-mile National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at The Festival. Last year’s contest was run in honour of Lord John Oaksey, the leading amateur rider, journalist and founder of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund, who died in September 2012.
Terry Biddlecombe’s name will similarly be carried on the race for one year.
Terry Biddlecombe – Cheltenham Festival winners
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: 1971 Persian Majesty; 1969 Normandy; 1963 Honour Bound
Racing Post Arkle Chase: 1969 Chatham
Festival Handicap Chase: 1964 Prudent Barney
JCB Triumph Hurdle: 1969 Coral Diver
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup: 1967 Woodland Venture
George Duller Handicap Hurdle: 1965 Coral Cluster
Spa Hurdle: 1966 Trelawny
Henrietta Knight – winners at The Festival as a trainer
Ladbrokes World Hurdle: 1997 Karshi
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual: 1998 Edredon Bleu
BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase: 2000 Edredon Bleu
RSA Chase: 2000 Lord Noelie
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup: Best Mate; 2002, 2003, 2004
Read Horse Talk with Simon Jackson each day at London24 for the latest horse racing news.