L.Piggott---This was the name and bold type I used to search for on the racing page the minute the newspaper arrived through the letter box before breakfast.
In 1975, when I was 7 years old, I remember asking my baby sitter,
"Which horse will win this race"
"Well, which one is Lester riding?"
"Surely, it's the horse that does the work?" .....and at the same time wondered who was this man.
Sure enough, the "Maestro" won that race and the next. From then on, like others before & after, I was hooked. I would follow his mounts and no others.
My eyes tracked his position in a race and I remember getting frustrated when his was the bottom that rose first when he was trailing down the field. Only slowly was I to appreciate that Lester would always be the first to know when he was beaten. His "rap-a-tap-tap" whip style has been well charted but it produced results and lifted many a Derby winner home.
Many biographies, videos & photos have been produced charting the person who left the biggest mark in Racing, worldwide.
My grandma and I used to do a naps competition in the holidays. When she thought she had our naps competition in the bag with her very well researched Ascot selections, I would throw in a few L.Piggott's......just to be safe. In those days, Lester was the equivalent of a currency.
He is recognised as having introduced the freelance of today back in the 1960's. Indeed, it was Lester who first jetted to far off places for international owners & won 38 Classics abroad.
Lester was sometimes summoned by foreign stewards, for no real reason, so that they could relate to their friends what it was like afterwards. It is due to "Larry", as some of his weighing room colleagues call him, that other jockeys now receive the call to ride abroad. It was Lester that introduced riding with short stirrups in Europe and apprentices tried to copy it.
Just over 5,300 winners in the UK & abroad
3 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes.
11 Championships. 1960, 1964-71, 1981 & 1982.
30 Classic victories in England.
25 centuries between 1955 & 1984.
Wins in 27 countries outside the UK.
465 Group race wins (would have been more if the Pattern had been introduced earlier)
Best rides in my opinion:
1985 Irish Champion Stakes--Commanche Run.
1990 Breeders' Cup Mile--Royal Academy.
Thank you, Lester.
Lester Piggott presenting Pat Eddery with "his"award at the 2004 Lesters
Lester receiving a momento when he rode at San Sebastian racetrack in August, 1992
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