Steve Knight began his horse racing career looking to become a flat jockey. This worked out well initially, getting a job with the Richard Hannon yard as an apprentice and then having three winners. However, at this point, he began to struggle, and his weight prevented him from getting as many rides as he would have liked.
At this point in his career, Knight changed codes and became a jump jockey, where horses carried more weight, so he would have no issues. The change gave him the greatest day of his career in 1987 when he won the Grand National at Aintree on Maori Venture.
Born on February 4, 1955, when moving to national hunt racing, Knight joined the Bob Turnell yard, and on just his 12th national hunt ride, he rode April Seventh to victory in the 1975 Whitbread Gold Cup. Success continued from there, but he had to wait until 1987 for the biggest day of his career.
Steve Knight Grand National Wins
- 1987 - Maori Venture trained by Andy Turnell
|1988||Tracys Special||Fence 21 - Pulled Up||-||Andy Turnell|
|1987||Maori Venture||1||£64,000||Andy Turnell|
|1986||Tracys Special||Fence 9 - Fell||-||Andy Turnell|
Winning The 1987 Grand National On Maori Venture
It was Maori Venture that gave Steve Knight his best day in the saddle at Aintree racecourse in the Grand National. The horse went into the race not really fancied by too many people, he had question marks over his jumping but would stay the distance well.
He jumped pretty well, which helped his chances and was put into the race with around five fences to go by Knight, the pair appeared to be one of many horses who could win the race at this stage. Two fences to go, and Maori Venture was right there, as they jumped over the last, he was in second place, looking to challenge the long-time leader Lean Ar Aghaidh, who was still out in front.
As they went over the last, Knight sent his mount on, and they went past Lean Ar Aghaidh, but so did The Tsarevich, ridden by John White, and now the stage was set for these two to have a battle up the run in. Maori Venture had the lead, but The Tsarevich appeared to be travelling better in behind. However, Knight and his ride would not stop, they kept finding more, and in the end, there was no way past for The Tsarevich.
With a great display of determination and guts up the run-in, the pair kept on and would not let anyone come and take their victory away from them.
Giving A Home To His Grand National Winner
There was a lot more to the victory and a really nice emotional story attached to the winning owner of Maori Venture, which eventually led to the horse being in the care of Steve Knight. Owner Jim Joel had been trying to win the Grand National for 30 years, a race he loved, but up until this day, he had never won.
At 92 years old, he had finally achieved his dream of winning the race and celebrated success a day later. At this moment, Joel announced that he would be retiring the horse immediately so that he could enjoy the rest of his days in a field, and he would look after him.
Being so old, a plan needed to be in place for the horse when Joel passed away, and this is where Steve Knight re-entered the picture. Joel told everyone that he would gift the horse to Knight in his will when he passed away, which he did.
After riding him to success in 1987, after the death of owner Jim Joel, Maori Venture was given a happy retirement by jockey Steve Knight until he died in 2000, aged 24.