Sir Henry Cecil: The great horses
Last Updated: 11/06/13 2:33pm
Frankel: Sir Henry Cecil's last superstar
Following the death of Sir Henry Cecil, we look at some of the greatest horses trained by the legendary handler.
OH SO SHARP:
Famously won the fillies' triple crown of 1000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger in 1985 with Steve Cauthen in the saddle. Heartbreakingly denied victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes that year in a remarkable campaign as Willie Carson and Petoski challenged wide and late.
Probably the best filly Cecil ever trained, Indian Skimmer lowered the colours of the mighty Miesque in the Prix de Diane of 1987. Kept in training beyond her Classic season, she won the English and Irish Champion Stakes in 1988 and was third in the Breeders' Cup Turf. In 1989 she won the Prix d'Ispahan and was third to Nashwan in the 1989 Eclipse.
One of a select group of just five fillies to have completed the treble of English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, with the renowned Timeform operation describing her performance at Epsom as "breathtaking". Only Minster Son, ridden and bred by Willie Carson, beat her home in the St Leger at Doncaster.
A huge, powerful colt, and a winner at Royal Ascot, he was never better than the day he won the Juddmonte International in 1999, where he was simply spectacular (almost Frankel-esque it was that good). American Gary Stevens took the ride and they strolled down the York straight eight lengths clear of the high-class Greek Dance.
Owned by Lord Howard de Walden, his 1985 Derby-winning effort will always be remembered as one of the great Epsom performances as he bowled along under that supreme judge of pace Cauthen and had the race won before turning into the straight.
One of Cecil's favourites, his pain when she was beaten in the 1997 Eclipse was very evident. But she enjoyed many brilliant days, winning the 1000 Guineas and Champion Stakes in 1996, and the Prince of Wales's Stakes the following year. The Champion Stakes win was a poignant one as it was the year after the trainer split with Sheikh Mohammed, who sponsored the race and owned runner-up Halling. The Sheikh handed Cecil the prize afterwards.
We should have known Frankel was going to be very special from early in his two-year-old days as the usually reticent Cecil waxed lyrical. But no-one could have predicted what he would do in the 2000 Guineas as he produced a jaw-dropping effort, having the Classic won by halfway with the crowd starting to applaud two furlongs out. His performance at last year's Royal Ascot was just as staggering, leading many pundits to label him as the best they had ever seen.
A great of the staying division, landing the Ascot Gold Cup in 1981 and 1982 for Lester Piggott. Previously trained by Paddy Prendergast in Ireland, he was second to the Cecil-trained Le Moss - another dual Gold Cup hero - in 1980. To emphasise just what a great horse he was, Ardross was beaten just a head in the 1982 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the final race of his career.
Winner of what is now the Racing Post Trophy in 1986 as the stable second-string, Reference Point won the Derby and St Leger the following year, and remains the last Epsom winner to go on to win at Doncaster in the final Classic of the season.
OLD VIC:From the first crop of Sadler's Wells, who would go on to superstardom as a sire, Sheikh Mohammed's Old Vic was brilliant when winning the French and Irish Derby in 1989, finishing the season with a higher rating than Nashwan. Old Vic would shine as a jumps stallion, too, siring among others the 2005 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King.
A supreme miler, Kris was second to Tap On Wood in the 1979 2000 Guineas but proved his worth with wins that year in the St James's Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He returned as a four-year-old to land the Lockinge at Newbury and was beaten just twice in a 16-race career.
Yet another from the Cecil dynasty of fillies and could easily have been another Oaks winner. She did not look back after that narrow reverse to Sariska, piling up five Group one wins, including back-to-back success in the Nassau Stakes and a first Breeders' Cup win for Cecil.
Not the best horse to pass through Warren Place, but her 2007 Oaks win truly was a landmark one, returning as it did her trainer to his rightful place at the top. Cecil, like most of those in attendance, was fighting back the tears afterwards. A great sporting moment, and who knows, without Light Shift the Frankel story may never have happened.