• Horse Racing

Sir Henry Cecil dies aged 70

ESPN staff
June 11, 2013
Sir Henry Cecil trained Frankel © PA Photos

Legendary racehorse trainer Sir Henry Cecil has passed away at the age of 70 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

A statement on Cecil's website read: "It is with great sadness that Warren Place Stables confirms the passing of Sir Henry Cecil earlier this morning.

"Following communication with the British Horseracing Authority, a temporary licence will be allocated to Lady Cecil.

"No further update is anticipated this afternoon. Any media enquiries should be directed to Tony Rushmer."

Ian Balding was a contemporary of Cecil through the 70s, 80s and 90s and he paid tribute, saying: "It is terribly sad. It is the end of an era, he was the greatest trainer of our time.

"Henry had an affinity and a love of horses that was more obvious than with any other trainer, particularly with the fillies. He trained eight Oaks winners and six 1000 Guineas. It is just phenomenal.

"He had some great horses, too many for me to mention them all. All the great jockeys rode for him. Steve Cauthen I particularly remember, Lester Piggott, Joe Mercer, Pat Eddery, Kieren Fallon - all champion jockeys.

"It is the passing of a genius."

Cecil was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2006 and despite the illness he continued to send out winners from his Warren Place yard.

Sir Henry Cecil's Classic roll of honour

  • 1000 Guineas - 1979, 1981, 1985, 1996, 1997, 1999

    2000 Guineas - 1975, 1976, 2011

    Oaks - 1985, 1988, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007

    Derby - 1985, 1987, 1993, 1999

    St Leger - 1980, 1985, 1987, 1989

In his final years Cecil arguably unearthed his greatest horse, as Frankel was sent to him by owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.

Frankel went on to rewrite the record books on the track, winning all 14 of his races and being rated the highest thoroughbred in the world.

Cecil, who was knighted in 2011, took out a training licence in 1969 and went on to become one of the finest trainers for the next three decades.

From the late-1990s, Cecil suffered a slump in his training fortunes and between July 2000 and October 2006, Cecil failed to train a winner in any Group One race.

In 2007, he won the Oaks with Light Shift and it sparked a stunning comeback - which culminated in saddling the great Frankel - who was one of a record 75 Royal Ascot winners for Cecil.

Cecil won the trainers' championship on 10 occasions and trained four Derby winners (Slip Anchor, Reference Point, Commander In Chief and Oath). He also won 21 other British Classics as well as a string of top-class races all over the globe.

Frankel's stunning all-the-way eight-length success in the 2000 Guineas provided Cecil with his 25th and final Classic - 36 years after his first when Bolkonski sprang a 33/1 shock in the 1975 2000 Guineas.

Steve Cauthen rode for Cecil in a golden period for the trainer in the 1980s - partnering the likes of Slip Anchor and Reference Point and he paid trubite to the trainer's genius.

"He was such a great guy - different, special, a genius," Cauthen said. "We had six great years together. The first year we had an amazing run when Slip Anchor won the Derby and Oh So Sharp won the Triple Crown for fillies. There were many others - Old Vic who won the French and Irish Derby, Reference Point, Indian Skimmer - there were so many of them.

"He had a great sense of humour. He was a super intelligent guy and really knew how to place his horses.

"He tried to have fun. The atmosphere during most of the time I was up at Warren Place was just fantastic. It was all due to him. It was a team effort but everyone looked to him. He was the one making decisions about where to run the horses.

"The way he trained was great and the way he placed them was fantastic. He was a special trainer.

"He went through a rough patch but he came back. To have a horse like Frankel and finish off his career when he wasn't in great health was incredible. He did a perfect job in making Frankel the horse he was."

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