Sir Henry Cecil has been one of the biggest contributors to British flat racing and many consider him to be the greatest flat racing trainer ever.
Throughout his career he trained many winners and was awarded with many accolades for his achievements. Maybe the biggest accolade he was awarded was in 2011 where he was knighted for services to horse racing in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
From 1964 to 1968 Henry worked with his stepfather as his assistant in his Freemason Lodge Stable. He gained some valuable experience here and by 1969 he had moved on to take out his own racing license. It was in this same season that Henry got his first win which came at Ripon then later in the year he won his first group one race when he claimed victory at the Eclipse stakes. It was also in that first season that he won his first race at Royal Ascot when he won the Queen Alexandra Stakes. This was to become a favoured racecourse for him and throughout his career he went on to win 75 races at Royal Ascot.
He quickly rose to prominence and won several major races in the following years including the Irish 1000 Guineas in 1973 and the 2000 Guineas in 1975. It wasn’t until the 1985 season that Henry first tasted victory at the Epsom Derby. Henry’s huge year came in 1999 where he won three of the five classic races and finished second in the remaining two classics.
Unfortunately due to some of the owners and breeders he associated with Henry fell into obscurity for several years and failed to book any group one victories between the years 2000 and 2006. 2005 was the low point when his stables only won 12 winners in the entire season. The stables that Henry ran had 200 horses going into this baron patch and by the end they could barely scrape together 50 horses.
Fortunately Henry weathered the storm and came back with a win in the Oaks in 2007 to mark his eighth victory in the race. 2011 was Henry’s best season in 10 years where he saddled 55 winners for combined winnings of over £2million.
Most of the success in these years can be attributed to Henry being the trainer for one of the greatest racehorses that has ever lived, Frankel.
Frankel was unbeaten and his legendary victory in the 2000 Guineas has been called the greatest display by any horse at a British racecourse.
Unfortunately Henry died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 70 but his impact on the world of horse racing will ring on for years to come.