Sir Henry with Frankel
SIR HENRY Cecil has enjoyed an outstanding career since taking out a licence to train in 1969. That year Wolver Hollow registered an Eclipse Stakes victory and success after success at the top level has followed. In 2011 Cecil received recognition for his tremendous achievements as a trainer when he was given a knighthood.
His record in domestic classics is better than any other current trainer with Cecil’s 2011 champion Frankel providing him with his 25th domestic Classic winner, via the 2000 Guineas. He has landed the Derby, racing’s blue riband, on four separate occasions, while he has saddled a record-equalling eight Oaks winners (the latest being Light Shift in 2007) – an exceptional achievement.
The 2000 and 1000 Guineas have also come his way – as has the St Leger. Indeed, he has secured victory on at least two occasions in all three of those Classics. No less than 10 times Cecil has emerged from a season as the champion trainer. It is hardly a surprise, then, that he has trained for many of racing’s biggest and most high-profile owners.
After a quiet spell, Cecil enjoyed a welcome return to the limelight in 2006 with Multidimensional providing a Group 2 victory at Deauville before Passage Of Time rounded off an encouraging season with a Group 1 triumph – also in France. Since then Cecil’s string has gone from strength to strength and he is now back where he used to be, the top.
For the past few seasons Warren Place has again been among the top ten stables in the country with Sir Henry ending the 2012 campaign as the fourth leading trainer in terms of to prize money. He saddled 55 winners; accumulated prize money of over £2.6million and his strike rate of 19% was among the highest.
Frankel once again proved to be a brilliant flag-bearer for the yard, finishing his exceptional career unbeaten in 14 starts and the top-rated racehorse in the world. His stunning 11-length demolition in the Queen Anne Stakes must go down as one of the most impressive victories ever and his final win in the Champion Stakes, again at Ascot, was simply unforgettable.
Cecil holds the record for the most wins at Royal Ascot and he took that tally to 75 in 2012 thanks to Frankel’s emphatic success in the Queen Anne Stakes and Thomas Chippendale’s gutsy win in the King Edward VII Stakes.
Cecil has trained numerous champions during his 37-year career including the likes of Triple Crown winner Oh So Sharp, crack juvenile Diesis, superb mare Midday not to mention one of his four Derby winners. However, it is Frankel who will go down as his greatest triumph.
Sir Henry has trained at Warren Place since 1976, taking over from Sir Noel Murless. It is an exceptional training base and has stabled many greats of the Turf in the last 30 years. But few of the horses that have resided there have been able to lay claim to the same legendary status that their trainer can.
An execption, of course, is Frankel. Sir Henry heralded him as the best racehorse ever. No doubt if Frankel could talk he would respond by saluting Sir Henry as the greatest trainer ever! And, what's more, few would argue against such a suggestion.
By Jackie Jarvis and Tony Rushmer