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352nd Newmarket Town Plate to be run in memory of Julie Cecil

Press Release 9th August 2022 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

The family of the late rider and trainer Julie Cecil are “very touched” that the 352nd renewal of the Newmarket Town Plate, which will be staged following the final race of the 2022 season on the July Course, will be run in her memory.

A field of 13 will go to post in the historic amateur rider only event on Saturday 27th August, which this year will be run as the Newmarket Town Plate (In Memory of Julie Cecil) to commemorate the 80 year old who passed away back in April. A personal memento of Julie’s will also be presented to the winning rider.

Cecil, who was the first wife of legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil and daughter of fellow Classic winning handler Sir Noel Murless, won the 1959 renewal of the Town Plate as a 17 year old aboard the Humphrey Cottrill-trained Adam’s Walk.

Julie Cecil celebrates her Newmarket Town Plate success on Adam’s Walk in 1959 – Credit: The Jockey Club

Twenty years after her Town Plate success Cecil was awarded the prize for the most winners ridden by a woman in her first season riding in 1979. In total, Cecil rode 10 winners before she decided to call time on riding at the age of 46.

Julie’s son, Noel Cecil, said: “Amy Starkey (Managing Director for The Jockey Club’s East Region) first mentioned it to me about a month ago. Nothing was concrete at that stage but I thought it was a lovely idea.

“It is a very nice thought and we are very touched that the race is being run in her memory as it is a big honour.

“I can’t remember word for word what she said about the race but the horse was trained by Humphrey Cottrill who I don’t think had many winners that season.

“Back then a lot of the winners of the race were women as there were not the opportunities for them to ride in races under Rules like now.

“I think as she won the race she always quite liked it as it was quite an achievement and she was pretty chuffed to have won it.”

During her time married to Sir Henry between 1966 and 1990, Cecil played a crucial role in her former husband’s success which saw him win the first of his four Derby victories at Epsom Downs in 1985 with Slip Anchor and in 1987 with Reference Point.

Following their divorce Cecil, who was also mum to daughter Katie, took out her own licence in 1991 and trained out of Southgate Stables in Newmarket where she saddled 190 winners until giving up her licence in 1998.

Although best remembered for saddling Alderbrook to Group Two glory in the Prix Dollar in 1994 it is her first winner, Golan Heights, who landed the Remy Martin VSOP Cognac Handicap on the Rowley Mile in April 1991, that Noel feels really stands out.

He continued: “She trained as well being a rider and my father trained as well and so did her father, so racing had been her upbringing all of her life.

“She was quite unique and had a great sense of humour. She loved her sports and she was a real fun person. She had lots of friends in the sport and really loved her racing.

“She trained on her own after she went her separate ways from my father but what was quite nice was that Lester (Piggott) rode her first ever winner given that he had ridden winners for her father in the past.

“Following her death everyone has been so kind and racing is really good like that.”

Change in Race Distance

Newmarket Racecourse has also announced that due to the extraordinary spell of dry weather and the impact it has had on water reserves, unless there is an exceptional amount of rain between now and the 27th August the 2022 Town Plate will take place solely on the racing surface of The July Course, over a distance of two miles one furlong rather than its traditional distance of three and three quarter miles.

Irrigation has had to cease on the first mile and five furlongs of the traditional course, which is on The National Stud and is only raced on for The Town Plate. This is due to the need to prioritise watering Newmarket’s two racing surfaces for the remainder of the 2022 season.


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