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A tribute to Sir Henry Cecil

You meet hundreds of people every year doing this job, and just a few make a real impression on you.

Some are funny, some are monosyllabic, some don’t want to go anywhere near your microphone at all.

And some speak with such authority you hang on their every word.

One in the last category was Sir Henry Cecil, who so sadly lost his courageous battle with cancer on Tuesday at the age of 70.

His cv may be stellar, but the man was quite simply a gentleman and a genius- 25m and more than 70 Royal Ascot winners- most of us won’t back that number in our lifetime.

I am lucky to have interviewed Cecil several times- a real privilege- and you needed to spend just 2 minutes listening to the great man to appreciate why from every corner of the sport have come heartfelt, generous tributes at the passing of an icon.

In 2011 I was lucky enough to be handed the Racecourse Commentators role for the inaugural Champions Day at Ascot- and as part of my homework went to the preview Press Conference in Newmarket earlier in the week. Henry, already, sadly by this time stricken, attended and spoke about Frankel- then heading for the Queen Elizabeth the Second Stakes. Afterwards he agreed to do a short radio interview for me. When it ended we shook hands and I wished him luck- and to my amazement he said ‘I hear it’s a big day for you too so the best of luck’.

Typical Henry and a memory I will always cherish.

It’s Royal Ascot for me and the team next week- I am humbled to have been chosen to do the TV Commentary on the Royal procession for the tenth year.

Sadly it won’t feel the same without Sir Henry.

But then neither will anywhere else we visit in the future.

Mike ‘Keep your halo straight’ Vince

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