Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott
If AP McCoy is the best jump jockey that ever lived, then Lester Keith Piggott is arguably the best flat jockey that ever graced the sport. Born on the 5th November 1935, Pigott’s style was the inspiration for many jockeys that have come since.

He was known affectionately as “The Long Fellow” and in a long career that spanned an incredible 47 years, the jockey achieved an incredible 4,493 wins on the flat. So dedicated was he that for decades, he kept himself a full 30 pounds underneath his natural weight to maintain his competitive edge.

The Early Years

First experiencing the saddle at the age of 10 at his father’s stable, Lester Piggott won his first competitive race at the age of 12 at Haydock Park on a horse aptly named ‘The Chase’. The jockey was regarded as something of a sensation in his teenage years when his first senior race saw him win The Derby aged just 18. It was a race he would win 8 more times in his long, largely peerless career and he was followed by legions of fans who marvelled at his skill and bravery.

As a champion jockey an incredible 11 times, he was part of the Sangster/O’Brien stable before he moved to the Henry Cecil camp at Warren Place.

Dispute

Following a dispute in 1983, Cecil replaced Piggott with Steve Cauthen, as a conflict of interest arose with Lester reneging on an agreement with one of the stable’s principle owners, Daniel Wildenstein to ride All Along at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It was a move that was damaging to Piggotts season, as he was banned from riding any more of Wildenstein’s horses.

Retirement & Controversy

After retirement in 1985, Lester Piggott became a trainer, successfully training 34 winners from his Eve Lodge stables. However, this new life was curtailed before it really got going, as the ex jockey was convicted of tax fraud, serving just over a year in jail and losing his OBE title he had received 10 years earlier.

He returned to racing in the early 90s, officially retiring in 1995, riding his last race in 1994. Today, aged 82, Piggott lives near Newmarket and will always be remembered for his incredible skill in the saddle and its contribution to flat racing.

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