Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
A legend to us all, Sir Henry Cecil continued to remind us all just how exceptional a trainer he was as Riposte repaid the faith the master trainer had in her with victory in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes.
The passing of Sir Henry Cecil is still raw, our memories of the great trainer of Warren Place triggered by a daily tribute in the official Royal Ascot programmes and by a fitting, well-observed minute of silence on the first day of the meeting but there could be no more fitting a tribute than a posthumous victory for the legend of the sport at his favourite meeting.
Seventy-five times a winner at Royal Ascot, Sir Henry Cecil adored the competitive nature that Royal Ascot provided. Having laid out the plans for his team of equine superstars prior to his death, Warren Place and Lady Cecil would ensure those plans came to fruition. Whilst Chigun and Tiger Cliff could not gain victory, it was fitting that Riposte - a three year old filly - would be the first winner of the meeting for Warren Place whom had sent out a multitude of three year old fillies to Classic glory under the care of Sir Henry.
As Riposte returned to the winners enclosure Lady Cecil turned to her stable lass, uttering the words 'That was worth it in the end'. Sir Henry will be smiling above us.
"First of all, that was for Henry, the Prince and all of the staff at Warren Place - for team Cecil," said Lady Cecil. "I don't really have the words to say what I am feeling right now. I think people will probably have a good idea. Henry was just adored by so man people. People who had never met him just loved him."
"I thought that this was me of the best teams we had going into Ascot for a while and that Henry would have been relishing this. Everyone knows how he loved Ascot, not only the fashion but the racing too. I am just so pleased that team Cecil managed to get this win for him."
"Keeping busy is what is keeping us all going and if we had nothing t do I think we would all fall to bits. We have focused on this week, the most important week of the whole year for any training establishment, we haven't got to the end of the week yet. That reception Riposte got was for him."
"She showed a turn of foot - I thought her forte would be stamina but she quickened up into it very well," said an emotional Tom Queally. "It's great that Riposte did it as well as she did and I am sure Henry is looking down helping us. It has been a tough, tough week and I know a lot of people are struggling emotionally. She was in front where it mattered." Victory in the colours of the man who stood by Sir Henry Cecil in times both good and bad, Prince Khalid Abdullah, was a fitting tribute to one of the greatest there has been, and will ever be.
Team Cecil go into the final two days of Royal Ascot with Frankel's half-sister, Joyeuse, next to play her hand for Warren Place. Noble Mission, a full brother to Frankel, is also among the runners left to race this week for the team.
Photo Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)