On the 11th of June 2013, Sir Henry Cecil passed away, leaving a long legacy in horse racing. On the seventh anniversary, we look back at seven of his biggest stars, starting with those that made him a master at Royal Ascot.
1 – Frankel
How could we begin anywhere else? A perfect 14/14 in his career, he was a dual Royal Ascot winner. He had to fight hard to land the 2011 St James’s Palace Stakes, the Queen Anne the following year an easier victory.
Frankel will be the horse that Sir Henry is most remembered for, the horse that brought him back into the public eye. He was also the horse that kept him going, passing just eight months after he had run his last race. “He’s the best I’ve ever had, the best I’ve ever seen” and that’s not easy to argue against.
2 – Le Moss
Sir Henry Cecil won four Ascot Gold Cups on the bounce from 1979-1982. Le Moss was the winner of the first pair of those. He also completed the 1979, 1980 doubles in the Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup.
He landed the Queen’s Vase in 1978, the year before his first Ascot Gold Cup for three wins at the meeting. A classic runner-up in the St Leger that same year before taking the staying ranks by storm. A tough as teak stayer, he then passed on the mantle to his stablemate.
3 – Ardross
Runner-up to Le Moss in the 1980 Ascot Gold Cup, he returned to win the race in 1981 and 1982. He landed a Doncaster Cup, a Goodwood Cup, two Yorkshire Cups as well as a successful raid in France for the Prix Royal-Oak.
A speedier stayer than Le Moss, he went on to sire Champion Hurdle winner Alderbrook. He also threw smart flat horse Karinga Bay who would himself sire a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Coneygree.
4 – Reference Point
Winner of the 1987 Derby and St Leger, he had to miss the first leg of a potential Triple Crown bid after surgery. He was not a Royal Ascot winner but he did land the King George at Ascot a month after the Royal meeting to cement his place as by far the best of his generation.
5 – Kris
The best miler of his generation, he retired with a record of 14/16, finishing second on the two occasions he was beaten. They came by half a length in the 2000 Guineas and by a neck in the QEII having suffered a troubled preparation. He is arguably not remembered as fondly as he deserves, a true star over the trip.
6 – Oh So Sharp
Onto the fillies, a group that Sir Henry Cecil did so well with. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed, jockey Steve Cauthen described her as “without doubt the best filly I’ve ridden.”
She was by the aforementioned Kris and was the first fillies winner of the Triple Crown for thirty years when in 1985 she won the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger.
7 – Bosra Sham
At the time Sir Henry Cecil called her “the best I’ve ever trained.” Of course, that was before Frankel came along but it’s hard to argue she was anything other than a star. The winner of the 1000 Guineas in 1996, she would taste Royal Ascot success in the 1997 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
The winner of seven of her ten starts, her Eclipse defeat that same summer is sadly the defining memory of her for many. She found all the trouble going in a five runner contest, referred to afterwards by jockey Kieren Fallon as the “Bosra Shambles.”
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