Legendary horse trainer dies aged 70

Sir Henry Cecil

Sir Henry Cecil

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Trainer of champion racehorses Sir Henry Cecil (11 January 1943 – 11 June 2013) has died aged 70 years after a battle with cancer.

Aberdeen-born Sir Henry had a long connection with Deeside as his mother Rohays Cecil, was the daughter of Major-General Sir James Burnett of Leys, 13th Baronet, owner of Crathes Castle.

Sir Henry was born fatherless after his father, Henry Cecil, younger brother of the 3rd Lord Amherst of Hackney, was killed in action with the Parachute Regiment in North Africa a fortnight before Henry and his twin brother David were born.

The boys were educated in England, completing their studies at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester.

His love of horses began when he was hired as an assistant at his stepfather’s Freemason Lodge stable between 1963 and 1968.

It was here Sir Henry learned his “instinct” with the animal which he trusted throughout his illustrious career.

He first tasted success in 1973 in Ireland when Cloonagh won the Irish 1,000 Guineas and again in 1975 when he won his first English Classic with Bolkonski at the 2,000 Guineas.

Regarded as a true great of the sport, Sir Henry had trained 25 domestic Classic winners, comprising four winners of the Epsom Derby, eight winners of the Epsom Oaks, six winners of the 1,000 Guineas, three of the 2,000 Guineas and four winners of the St. Leger Stakes.

He was also the Master Trainer at Royal Ascot, where he successfully trained 75 winners during his time there.

Sir Henry was a Scottish lad at heart and often remarked on his pride in association with the country and will be remembered for his kindness to his staff in particular.

His relatives in Deeside will be attending his funeral as he is laid to rest in his ancestral home of Crathes Castle next week.