Sir Henry Cecil died on 11 June, 2013, aged 70, following a long battle with cancer. The 10-time British champion Flat trainer was in his element at Goodwood, sending out 170 winners, of which a joint-record of 73 came at Glorious Goodwood.
Cecil, who started training in 1969, was born in Aberdeen on 11 January, 1943, 10 minutes before his twin brother David. He achieved a record of success that ranks him among the pantheon of training legends. His horses were victorious in 25 British Classics and has the accolade of being the most successful trainer ever at Royal Ascot with 75 victories.
He enjoyed his first Goodwood victory on 30 August, 1969, with Rohays in the Wills Embassy Maiden.
His level of success in Goodwood’s two Group One races is unprecedented – landing the QIPCO Sussex Stakes seven times and the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes eight times.
In the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, Cecil was successful with Bolkonski (1975), Wollow (1976), Kris (1979), Distant View (1994), Ali-Royal (1997) and greatest of all, Frankel (2011 and 2012).
Frankel, who retired unbeaten in 14 starts (10 at Group One level), made history by becoming the first horse to win the QIPCO Sussex Stakes twice and, after his final victory at Ascot in the QIPCO Champion Stakes in October, 2012, was described by Cecil as: “The best I’ve ever had, the best I’ve ever seen, I’d be very surprised if there has ever been better.” This view was vindicated when the colt was awarded a rating of 140 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings – the highest ever.
Midday was another record-breaker for Cecil at Goodwood, becoming the first horse to win the Group One Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes three times (2009, 2010 and 2011). The trainer’s other Nassau Stakes wins came through Roussalka (1975 and 1976), Connaught Bridge (1979), Nom De Plume (1987) and Lyphard’s Delta (1993).
A plethora of success at Glorious Goodwood also included four Goodwood Cups (Parthenon 1970, Le Moss 1979 and 1980 and Ardross 1981), two Gordon Stakes (John French 1983 and Noble Mission 2012), two Lennox Stakes (Lord Shanakill 2010 and Chachamaidee 2012) and a record six Vintage Stakes (Marathon Gold 1979, Trojan Fen 1983, Faustus 1985, High Estate 1988, Be My Chief 1989 and Eltish 1994).
Explaining his love of Goodwood, Cecil once remarked: “Glorious Goodwood is one of my favourite meetings and I used to always stay down and make use of the mornings with a few shopping expeditions on the south coast. I have been very lucky with the likes of Ardross, Le Moss, Wollow, Bolkonski and Kris, and it is always great fun.”
Cecil, who married Jane McKeown in 2008, fought cancer from 2006. His outstanding achievements were acknowledged with a knighthood in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to racing.
Lady Cecil took over the licence at Warren Place following Sir Henry’s death and continues to train from the historic Newmarket yard.
She saddled her first winner at Goodwood when Wild Coco landed the Group Three Lillie Langtry Fillies’ Stakes on 1 August, 2013 and gained a second Glorious Goodwood success with Retirement Plan the following day.