Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
It is somewhat hard to put into words how the news of Sir Henry Cecil passing has made me feel. Shocked would be a good start, sad too, but the general upset that the horse racing world feels today will never fully be put into words.
To us, the racing family across the world, Sir Henry Cecil was the
greatest of them all and a father figure that racing could regularly
look up to in awe at the achievements that he continued to acquire. A
man whom had trained his string of stars to 136 Group 1 glories across the world, Cecil exits this world having completed his greatest
training feat of them all.
Cecil was a kind-hearted man, a man whom was respected in all areas of the sport and exuded great wit on regular occasions in a post-race
press brawl. For many a reporter, we hung on every word Cecil would
say, carefully writing every letter down whilst hoping that the horse
which he was detailing would go on to further success for this
legendary icon of the sports.
Just eight months prior to his death, Sir Henry Cecil would watch his
star colt Frankel complete and curtail and unbeaten streak of fourteen
in the British Champions Stakes at Ascot on October 20th. "I can't
believe that in the history of racing there has ever been a better
racehorse" said Cecil, as his star son of Galileo exited stage left to
the roars of thousands.
In just under two weeks time, Cecil had planned to saddle Frankel's
half-sister, Joyeuse, in a bid for further glory. A filly whom
impressed in winning her maiden at Lingfield Park, she was to target
the Group 3 Albany Stakes on the Friday of the internationally
renowned Royal Ascot meeting. Whilst Joyeuse will still be aimed at
the race under the temporary licence of Cecil's wife, Lady Cecil, it
is with sadness that we will never see Sir Henry Cecil able to watch
her progression towards a Classic season campaign.
Cecil had long been praised for his handling of fillies. An
exceptional trainer with both sexes, Cecil enjoyed never-ending
success with fillies having acquired eight victories in The Oaks at
Epsom and six victories in the 1,000 Guineas forming part of an
astonishing twenty-five Classic successes.
Fitting it may be that Cecil's success with Frankel would be the
perfect tribute to American trainer Robert Frankel. A long-time
respected member of the Juddmonte training ranks, Frankel passed away in 2009 from lukemia. One would hope that Juddmonte would be provide Cecil with an equally fitting tribute, with the Frankel x Midday foal possibly providing the most perfectly apt tribute of them all.
"I don’t like to be defeated" said Cecil, but in his final battle with
cancer Cecil would sadly be unable to be victorious once more.
Sir Henry Cecil passed away at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer.