Sir Henry Richard Amherst Cecil was born on the 11th January 1943 in Aberdeen in Scotland. He was a very successful English race horse trainer and the stepson of the former champion race horse trainer, Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochford. Henry Cecil was a twin but unfortunately his brother David died in 2000.
Henry Cecil worked as an assistant trainer to his step-father from 1964 to 1968, taking out his own license in 1969, he enjoyed the most wonderful career. His first winner was a horse called Celestial Cloud at Ripon and then he created, what is considered, the most productive racing stable in the whole of England, being particularly well-known for his success with fillies. He became an absolute legend in the horse racing world and many of the most successful UK jockeys rode for him, including Joe Mercer, Lester Piggott, Steve Cauthen, Pat Eddery and Kieren Fallon. Ben Cecil, Henry Cecil’s nephew is also an extremely successful trainer in the USA, so clearly training race horses runs in the Cecil family!
Henry Cecil was named Champion Trainer 10 times, won the Epsom Oaks 8 times, the 1000 Guineas 6 times and had many winners in the Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas, and the St. Leger Stakes. He was the Master trainer at Royal Ascot where his record of 70+ winners was unrivalled, making him a veritable racing legend amongst the racing fraternity! In total, he won 34 classics, here at home in the UK and abroad, and it will come as no surprise that Henry trained horses for the biggest and most high profile race horse owners.
However, 1995 was a particularly rough year for him as he fell out with one of his most valued owners, Sheikh Mohammed. The Sheikh withdrew his horses from Henry’s stable which proved to be the start of a few disappointing years, compared with before, but then he had his first classic win with a horse called Light Shift, which won the Oaks in 2007. Also, in February 2007, Henry let it be known that he had, in fact, been having treatment for stomach cancer for the past nine months.
Henry trained race horses at Warren Place in Newmarket, Suffolk, from 1976, when he took over from Sir Noel Murless, and the training establishment proved to be exceptional for him as it had stabled so many ‘champions of the racetrack’ over the past 30 years. Even so, few of the horses that had been trained there, have been able to lay claim to the same legendary status that their trainer had and in the 2011 Birthday Honours, Henry Cecil was knighted for services to horse racing. "I love training – it is a way of life," he said "I’ve had a certain amount of success and don’t see why that shouldn’t continue."
Sir Henry Cecil died of cancer on 11th June 2013, in hospital in Cambridge, UK.
Ten Notable Horses Henry Cecil Trained:
One in a Million
Oh So Sharp
Chimes of Freedom
Commander in Chief