SIR HENRY RICHARD AMHERST CECIL
11 January 1943 - 11 June 2013
We seem to have been doing more than our share of obituaries recently, though it might just be a fact of my own aging, and that of my contemporaries. Today’s is more a celebration than it is a mourning, as it’s in the nature of a memorial rather than a burial.
Yesterday, English racing’s cognoscenti gathered at Ely Cathedral, which was the late Sir Henry Cecil’s favourite piece of architecture. The assembly included riders who have served under the master trainer at Warren Place; Richard Quinn, Willie Ryan, Tony McGlone, Ted Durcan, John Lowe and Tom Queally, while the training fraternity present included Sir Michael Stoute, John Gosden, John and Ed Dunlop, Marco Botti, James Fanshawe and Roger Varian, as well as former assistants Luca Cumani, William Jarvis and David Lanigan. Also there were racing heavyweights Martin Pipe, Sir Robert Ogden, Lady Howard de Walden and Maria Niarchos, British Horseracing Authority Chief Executive, Paul Bittar; Simon Crisford and Clare Balding.
Heading the congregation of staff members were longstanding stalwarts Frank Conlon and Paddy Rudkin, while Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Racing Manager Teddy Beckett (Lord Grimthorpe), who sold us Stronghold, paid Sir Henry the ultimate tribute:
“If you were asked to paint a mural of the lifetime of Sir Henry Cecil, how on earth would you start this masterpiece?” Grimthorpe said. “To know Henry, you’d have to understand his closest friends were his horses. His maxim was ‘to feel our way, and let the horses tell us.’ Perhaps Henry’s greatest friend was Frankel, with apologies to all the others. Like all great friendships, neither would be the same without the other. He was a completely unique human being, whose legacy is recognized by all those here and by the millions around the world who loved him without even having had the good fortune to meet him.”