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Updated on 06/13/2013 9:57AM
Henry Cecil, trainer of Frankel and other greats, dies at 70
Henry Cecil had been away from the racetracks of England for two months last August fighting illness when he made the trip from his home in Newmarket to York for the Juddmonte International Stakes.
The occasion was the 13th start in the career of the undefeated colt Frankel, whom Cecil trained for Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. Cecil had missed Frankel’s win in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood earlier that month while undergoing treatment for cancer, but was determined to be at York.
Frankel was brilliant in the Juddmonte International, winning by seven lengths. The colt received a rousing reception. Then, Cecil walked into the winner’s circle to a standing ovation from an adoring audience.
“I just cannot miss the day and wanted to be there for Frankel,” he told the press.
Frankel was the greatest horse that Cecil trained in a career considered by many the finest of any trainer since World War II. Tuesday, Cecil died after a battle with cancer in Cambridge, England. He was 70.
His death was announced on his stable’s website in a brief statement.
“It is with great sadness that Warren Place Stables confirms the passing of Sir Henry Cecil earlier this morning,” the statement said on Tuesday.
Cecil, based in Newmarket, was the champion trainer in England 10 times. Aside from winning the English Derby four times, Cecil also won the English Oaks eight times, and won 25 British classic races. He is the all-time leading trainer at the Royal Ascot meeting, with 75 wins.
Cecil had success in the United States, winning the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita with Midday and the 1997 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park with Yashmak.
Born near Aberdeen, Scotland, Cecil won the English 2000 Guineas three times, most recently with Frankel in 2011. Frankel, named after the late American Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, was unbeaten in his 14 starts, from 2010 to 2012, and is considered one of the finest milers in history.
Frankel was bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, which played a pivotal role in Cecil’s success in the last 30 years.
For Juddmonte, Cecil also trained such notable Group 1 winners as Beat Hollow, Commander in Chief, and Twice Over. Twice Over was third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Cecil began training in 1968, and won his first training title in 1976. At one point, he had more than 200 horses in training, a number that dwindled in the early 2000s. In 2006, he announced that he had stomach cancer. A year later, Cecil won the English Oaks for the eighth time with Light Shift.
Frankel joined his stable in 2010 and won twice at Royal Ascot – the 2011 St. James’s Palace Stakes and 2012 Queen Anne Stakes.
In 2011, Cecil was knighted by the queen for services to horse racing.
Tuesday, the four racecourses operating in England – Fontwell, Lingfield, Salisbury and Worcester – observed a minute’s silence in honor of Cecil.
Henry Cecil: Biography and Career Highlights
Born: Jan. 11, 1943, in Aberdeen, Scotland
Died: June 11, 2013, in Cambridge, England
Accomplishments and honors: Knighted for services to racing in 2011; all-time leading trainer at Royal Ascot with 75 wins; leading trainer at Royal Ascot meeting eight times; leading trainer in Great Britain 10 times.
Frankel: Unbeaten in 14 starts, including 10 Group 1 events; two-time European Horse of the Year; European champion older horse; European champion 3-year-old colt; European champion 2-year-old colt.
Twice Over: European champion older horse; four-time Group 1 winner; third, 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic
Indian Skimmer: English and Irish champion older mare; French classic winner; third, 1988 Breeders' Cup Turf
Oh So Sharp: English champion 3-year-old filly; English filly Triple Crown winner
Commander in Chief: English and Irish classic winner; European champion 3-year-old colt
Old Vic: English Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old colt, champion older horse; Irish and French classic winner
Reference Point: English champion 2-year-old colt and 3-year-old colt; English classic winner
Slip Anchor: English champion 3-year-old colt; English classic winner
Kris: English champion miler
Royal Anthem: Grade/Group 1 winner in England, Canada, and the U.S.; runner-up 1999 Breeders' Cup Turf
Midday: Six-time Grade/Group 1 winner in three countries; winner, 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and runner-up in 2010
European classic winners: Oh So Sharp (1985 English 1,000 Guineas, English Oaks, and English St. Leger), Old Vic (1989 Irish Derby and French Derby), Commander in Chief (1993 Epsom Derby and Irish Derby), Diminuendo (1989 English and Irish Oaks), Ramruma (1999 English and Irish Oaks), Slip Anchor (1985 Epsom Derby), Reference Point (1987 Epsom Derby and St. Leger), Oath (1999 Epsom Derby), Bolkonski (1975 English 2,000 Guineas), Wollow (1976 English 2,000 Guineas), Frankel (2011 English 2,000 Guineas), Fairy Footsteps (1981 English 1,000 Guineas), Bosra Sham (1996 English 1,000 Guineas), Sleepytime (1997 English 1,000 Guineas), Wince (1999 English 1,000 Guineas), Light Cavalry (1980 St. Leger), Michelozzo (1989 St. Leger), Cloonagh (1973 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Snow Bride (1989 English Oaks), Lady Carla (1996 English Oaks), Reams of Verse (1997 English Oaks), Live Divine (2000 English Oaks), Light Shift (2007 English Oaks), Alydaress (1989 Irish Oaks), Indian Skimmer (1989 French Oaks), Rafha (1990 French Oaks)
Cauthen and Cecil an intriguing partnership when I was a postgraduate over there. Buckskin and Bosra Sham two memorable Cecil runners both top class but fragile.
Was he related to So Cal trainer Ben Cecil?? They look EXACTLY the same
racing lost a legend in sir henry cecil, i off the best horses i seen him train in reference point. keep trainging up there R.I.P
Also : Hard to replace great ones, Billy Mott has not done with Juddmonte ponys that Bobby Frankel did !!!!!!
Will Ben, who I think is a nephew, training here in Calyforna, take over for Henry ? John H M G R VSP WPA Gosden was in CA for awhile then went back !
RIP Sir Henry. Indian Skimmer and her rubber bit would have won the 98 BC Turf if A. The boy had let her run instead of strongly restraining her. B. She had settled instead of being rank virtually the whole mile and a half. C. a combination of A & B. So wonderful his biggest hoss came at the end of his career. No trainer ever passes away with a Ky Derby 2 year old contender in his barn and I'm sure the hoss Frankel extended Henry's life. This is a guy who cannot be replaced!!
Never saw a horse improve or keep the same form after leaving Sir HRC
RIP Henry. He should've tried cannabis oil. It may not have saved him but it would've helped.
Juddmonte had two great trainers in Henry Cecil and Bobby Frankel. -- I hope Juddmonte keeps on with a high class stable, and that they have a great son of Frankel that can be named Cecil!!