HORSE RACING is in mourning following the death of legendary trainer Henry Cecil, aged 70. Poignantly, Cecil passed away yesterday morning just a week before the start of the meeting he made his very own, Royal Ascot, where he trained a remarkable 75 winners.
In recent years, Cecil battled stomach cancer, but throughout that dignified fight with such a cruel illness Cecil was even more in the public domain as he was training one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Frankel, a horse he guided to 14 wins from 14 starts and one who captured the imagination of many more outside of the horse racing world.
Cecil took out his training licence in 1969 and incredibly trained a winner at Royal Ascot every year between 1974 and 2002, with the exception of 1996, and was knighted in 2011 for his contributions to the sport.
A champion trainer 10 times, Cecil memorably trained Light Shift to win the 2007 Epsom Oaks after a somewhat barren time, which saw many leading owners, including Sheikh Mohammed, withdraw their support from his Warren Place.
The Epsom Oaks was a race he won eight times, as he was renowned for having a special touch in training fillies to Group One success. However, Cecil also trained the winner of the Epsom Derby on four occasions and enjoyed big-race success in Ireland as recently as last year when Chachamaidee won the Group One Matron Stakes at the Curragh.
In addition to that, Cecil trained two Irish Derby winners in Old Vic and Commander In Chief, three Irish Oaks winners in Diminuendo, Alydaress and Ramruma, as well as the winner of an Irish 1,000 Guineas, Irish Champion Stakes, the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
Indeed, one of Cecil's most recent and final winners came at the Curragh last month when Chigun won the Group Three Abu Dhabi Stakes in the hands of his final stable jockey Tom Queally.
A minute's silence was held at all racecourses yesterday with riders wearing black armbands as the racing world united to pay tribute to one of the greats.