Sir Henry Cecil, one of Britain’s most eminent trainers passed away Tuesday at the age of 70, ending a 7-year battle with stomach cancer.
Cecil, who was born January 11, 1943 in Aberdeen, Scotland began his career working as an assistant for his stepfather, 5 time UK leading trainer Sir Cecil Boyd Rochfort, before taking out his own license in 1969. He then spent the next 44 years at Warren Place Stables earning the title as Britain’s champion training 10 times.
“His unique talents as one of Britain’s greatest racehorse trainers epitomized by his successes with Frankel (who retired undefeated after 14 races in 2012) have played a major part in growing the sport’s profile around the world,” commented Rod Street, CEO of the British Champions Series. “For that we shall forever be in his debt.”
Henry Cecil’s first major success came in 1973, when Cloonagh took the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Among Cecil's many accomplishments was saddling four winners of the Epsom Derby including Slip Anchor who won by won by seven lengths under the masterful direction of American jockey Steve Cauthen (best known here for winning the Triple Crown aboard Affirmed in 1978), Reference Point, Commander in Chief, and Oath.
In 1985, his horse Oh So Sharp became the first filly in thirty years to win England’s three racing classics, the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger. In fact, Cecil ended up claiming victory in eight Epsom Oaks, six 1,000 Guineas, three 2,000 Guineas and four St. Legers, not to mention six classics in Ireland and three in France, as well as the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf with Juddmonte Farms' Midday.
"He was loved by everyone” stated five-times British champion jockey Willie Carson. “The punters loved him more than anybody because they knew when they put their money on a Henry Cecil horse they were in with a great chance. It didn't matter who rode the horse. It didn't matter where it was running. Henry was just a genius of a horse race trainer," he told the BBC.