Henry Cecil

EPSOM, ENGLAND - JUNE 1: Trainer Henry Cecil after Light Shift returned from landing The Vodafone Oaks Race run at Epsom Racecourse on June 1 2007, in Epsom, England. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)Henry Cecil is the most successful active trainer in British flat racing having won 34 Classics and the British Champion Trainer’s title on 9 occasions.

Unlike many trainers who begin their careers in the wake of successful riding careers, Henry Cecil never excelled as a rider. Instead Cecil worked as an apprentice to his stepfather, British champion trainer Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, between 1964 and 1968, taking out his own training license in 1969.

Henry Cecil achieved his first big win in his first year working as an independent trainer, taking the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown with Wolver Hollow. For the next several years Henry Cecil gradually entrenched himself at the top level of English flat racing.

Henry Cecil waited six years before winning his first English Classic, taking the 2,000 Guineas with Bolkonski in 1975, following this up with a second win in 1976 with Wollow. With the momentum provided by these two major wins, and his first Champion Trainer title in 1976, Cecil set out to conquer the flat racing world.

The season for which Henry Cecil will always be remembered is the 1987 flat racing season. During this year Cecil saddled 180 winners and won 24 of the 99 Group races run in England that year. In achieving this massive win total, Henry Cecil surpassed a record that had stood for 120 years.

Cecil’s brilliant 1987 season saw him take the Epsom Derby for the second time. Since taking this win, Henry Cecil has won another two Epsom Derby races, making him one of the most successful trainers in the history of the race.

In 1995 Henry Cecil’s fortune began to decline. His stable was afflicted by a virus, his relationship with owner Sheikh Mohammed broke down, and several other of his long serving clients died. To add insult to injury the Epsom Derby champion passed through his second divorce and discovered he had stomach cancer.

For several years Henry Cecil languished near the bottom of the trainer’s table as the number of horses in his stable dwindled. However in 2006 Passage of Time won Cecil his first Group 1 race in six years, and in 2007 Light Shift provided the Epsom Derby champion with his eighth Epsom Oaks victory.