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Champion horse trainer Hency Cecil dies

LONDON -- Henry Cecil, who trained unbeaten superstar Frankel and was one of British horse racing's greatest trainers in a career spanning nearly half a century, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

Cecil's death was announced on the website of Warren Place Stables, where the Scotsman worked as a trainer for 44 years.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, Cecil was champion trainer in Britain 10 times. He capped his career by training one of racing's all-time great horses, Frankel, who was retired last year after winning all 14 of his races.

"His unique talents as one of Britain's greatest racehorse trainers, epitomized by his successes with Frankel, have played a major part in growing the sport's profile around the world, for which we will be forever in his debt," said Rod Street, chief executive of the British Champions Series.

The popular Cecil, who hailed from an aristocratic background and started his racing career as an assistant to his stepfather, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2006. He looked frail in his last few public appearances, speaking in a whisper.

After capturing his first classic winner at the 2,000 Guineas with Bolkonski in 1975, he trained four Derby winners and the same number of winners in the St. Leger.

In 1985, Cecil's Oh So Sharp became the first filly since 1955 to win English racing's three classics -- the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger.

There were low points. Sheikh Mohammed removed all of his horses from Cecil's Warren Place yard in 1995, and an acrimonious split with jockey Kieren Fallon came four years later.

By 2000, Cecil's career faltered and there was speculation he could retire.

But Cecil bounced back, claiming 25 British winners in 2006. The next year, Light Shift won the Oaks for Cecil's first classic win since 1999.

A series of other Group One triumphs followed, with Frankel providing a fitting finale to Cecil's stellar training career by winning all 14 races before being declared among the best racehorses of all time.

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