The British Horseracing Authority did its bit earlier in the week by immediately granting his widow a temporary licence. Yesterday Lady Cecil had her first runners, and within the space of 15 minutes, two of them showed that if there had been any interruption to their usual routine it hadn’t affected them.
First in was Morpheus, a half brother to Frankel, but with none of his greatness about him. Morpheus won a maiden for three year olds at Nottingham, with Stat of the Day selection Shades Of Silver some way down the field. We’ll forgive them both. Fittingly, Morpheus runs in the colours of Khalid Abdullah, the man who more than any others stood by Cecil through the difficult years when other owners deserted him.
Lady Cecil said, “He did it so well. He’s taken time to get his act together but that was very pleasing and James (Doyle) gave him a great ride.” It was Doyle’s first ride for the stable, so a day to remember for him. He said, “It’s nice to be part of something special. Sir Henry was always a trainer I admired and I was hoping one day I’d get a ride for the stable.”
Switch a hundred miles or so south east to Yarmouth, where moments later Songbird sauntered home 11 lengths ahead of the rest of his two rivals in a little handicap. Ian Mongan, second jockey for the yard rode, and admitted to feeling a little different then usual before the race. “I never get nervous before a race but I was today because I wanted to win so much for Henry. He gave me a new lease of life in the game and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be riding now.”
Meanwhile, plans to remember Cecil at Royal Ascot next week became clearer. The opening day of the meeting will start with a minute’s silence once the royal procession arrives in the parade ring. And next Friday, the race Cecil made his own by winning eight times, will be run as The Queen’s Vase In Memory Of Sir Henry Cecil, with the jockeys wearing black armbands.
In what was in effect a rare royal tribute, Johnny Weatherby, the Queen’s representative at Ascot, said, “Sir Henry was an intrinsic part of Royal Ascot with 75 winners over more than four decades. It is no secret that Royal Ascot was his favourite meeting of the year and we felt it was fitting to honour his achievements here next week, and remember the passing of one the greatest figures that the world of sport has ever seen. Our thoughts are with Sir Henry's family and I am delighted that Lady Jane will be accompanying the Countess of Wessex for the trophy presentation following the Queen's Vase.”