Horse Racing - Legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil dies

English champion racehorse trainer Henry Cecil, who triumphed a record 75 times at Royal Ascot, died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 70.

Reuters
Horse Racing - 2014 Investec Oaks to be run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil
.

View photo

Trainer of Frankel Sir Henry Cecil

"It is with great sadness that Warren Place Stables confirms the passing of Sir Henry Cecil earlier this morning," said a statement on the Newmarket trainer's official website.

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

In his later years, the 10-times champion trainer looked after Frankel, the highest-rated racehorse in the world who was unbeaten in 14 starts before retirement last year with almost £3 million in earnings from 14 victories.

The colt was named after American trainer Robert 'Bobby' Frankel, who also died of cancer in 2009.

Knighted in 2011 for his services to horse racing, Cecil was responsible for 25 British Classic winners and ranks among the greatest trainers of all time.

From an aristocratic background, Cecil first took out a training licence in 1969 and celebrated his first British Classic win in 1975 with Bolkonski - ridden by Italian jockey Frankie Dettori's father Gianfranco - in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

He trained four Derby winners - Slip Anchor, Reference Point, Commander in Chief and Oath - as well as six 1,000 Guineas and four St Leger winners.

Slip Anchor, owned by Lord Howard de Walden and ridden by American jockey Steve Cauthen, turned in one of the great performances to win at Epsom by seven lengths in 1985.

An elegant and eloquent presence, even though gaunt and with his voice reduced to a whisper by bouts of chemotherapy towards the end, Cecil spoke movingly last year of how Frankel had helped to sustain him in his fight against stomach cancer.

"I cannot believe in the history of horse racing that there has ever been a better racehorse," he said.

British Horseracing Authority (BHA) chief executive Paul Bittar paid tribute to Cecil, describing him as: "one of the great characters and one of the great trainers in British racing for a long time, with an endless number of wonderful horses.

"It's tragically sad," Bittar said after being told of Cecil's death. "Having said that, what a wonderful way to be able to finish his career with the greatest race horse (Frankel) that any of us will ever get to see."

Cecil, whose father died before he was born during World War Two, was encouraged into training by his stepfather Cecil Boyd-Rochfort - a five-times champion trainer himself.

"I do everything by instinct really, not by the book. I like to think I've got a feeling for and understand my horses, that they tell me what to do really," he said in a 2011 interview with the Daily Telegraph.

"I like to think I have a sort of rapport where I don't just treat them as something to help me earn a living. It's a partnership."

View Comments (200)