In a modest cul de sac on the other side of town to Warren Place sits a bungalow called Ardross Lodge. The clue is in the title. Its owner Peter Robinson is Henry Cecil’s greatest fan.
For Ardross, dual winner of both the Gold Cup and The Yorkshire Cup, is but one of the 3,300 Cecil trained winners that have been lovingly logged by 58 year old Peter Robinson with a diligence which hardly needs him to say – “I suppose I am a bit of an anorak.” Inside the bungalow there is a hyper active dog called Roxy and book after book, ledger after hand written ledger devoted to every race, all 12,339 of them, ever run by a horse trained by Henry Cecil.
“I first got interested following Harry Carr when he rode for the Queen,” explains Peter neither of whose two wives outlasted his obsession. “The royal horses were trained at Freemason Lodge by Cecil Boyd Rochfort and when Henry took over I transferred my affections and have followed the stable ever since. I don’t have a computer, drive a car or have Sky but I watch the races in the betting shop and get details from the TBA library and Henry lets me go up to the stables whenever I want.”
“I had to take ill health retirement from Tesco in 2002 ,” he says, “but before that I was on the fish department and would meet Henry and Jane when they came in to get their dinner. Henry was very keen on herrings, I think it was his Scottish ancestry.”
In the Robinson shrine there are no less than 87 books of newspaper cuttings and amidst a cornucopia of information is the mesmerising statistic that the Cecil 42 season win and place ratio stands at a staggering 65.44%. Peter revelled in what he calls the record breaking “annus mirabilis” of 1987 just as he suffered through the “annus miserablis” of 2005. “Now people in the yard tell me that Frankel could be the best horse that Henry has ever had,” adds Peter “and if he wins the Derby I think my poor dog will think I have finally gone mad in front of the telly.”