Henry Cecil was one of the most celebrated and succesful horse trainers of all time. Specialising in flat racing he won all there was to win during his career including multiple wins of all of the British classics (including the 1000 Guineas 6 times and the Epsom Oaks 8). He consistently outshone his contemporaries and was awarded Champion Jockey status 10 times over a 17 year period.
Cecil’s introduction to racing took place at his Stepfather’s Freemason Lodge stable in 1964. Going his own way in 1969 it wasn’t long before he had his first Group one winner, Wolver Hollow in the Eclipse Stakes. The next year saw him win the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot with Parthenon. Success breeds success, and the early 70s saw his first Classics win with Bolkonski at the 2,000 Guineas. It was a sign of things to come with many more wins in the Classics in the years that followed.
It wasn’t all plane sailing for Henry Cecil though. There followed a spate of deaths and relationship breakdowns in his working life, impacting his career in a big way. A fall out with Sheikh Mohammed had an especially significant effect with many horses suddenly removed from Cecil’s stable.
Like all winners in life though he would later bounce back. All it took was for an Oaks win in 2007 and the momentum was with him once more. 2011 saw him saddle 55 winners and rake in close to £3 million in prize money. The success of that and the following year was in no small part due to Frankel, a horse that would go on to have a flawless career featuring nine group one wins in a row including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes.
Henry Cecil died in 2013 but more than set the bar for others over a decades long career. It was evident how at home he felt in racing, and his gentlemanly yet competitive way will not fade quickly from the minds of his peers or of horse racing fans in general.