Lester Piggott to attend Haydock as track marks anniversary of first success

Mon 6 Aug 2018
Lester Piggott won the Derby nine times among a host of Classic wins (Focusonracing)
Lester Piggott won the Derby nine times among a host of Classic wins (Focusonracing)

Lester Piggott plans to be at Haydock Park on Saturday as the Merseyside track marks the 70th anniversary of the riding great’s first ever victory.

In 1948, at the age of just 12, Piggott rode three-year-old filly The Chase in a selling handicap, winning at odds of 10-1.

Piggott went on to record 95 winners at Haydock in his glittering career, and his final success also came there, through the Jack Berry-trained Palacegate Jack in 1994.

Lester Piggott in action as a 12-year-old at his father Keith's stables in Lambourn
Lester Piggott in action as a 12-year-old at his father Keith's stables in Lambourn

To celebrate his remarkable achievements – which included being crowned champion jockey 11 times and countless big-race winners around the world – officials have named the fourth race of the day the Smarkets Lester Piggott 70th Anniversary Handicap Stakes.

Piggott, 82, who currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland, will attend with his wife, Susan, and other family members.

He said: “I am very grateful to Haydock Park for commemorating a minor race run so very long ago.

“That seller back in 1948 was to prove the start of a very long career, and I’m delighted that Haydock was at the end of that career as well – the course where I rode my last winner in Britain in 1994.”

The statue of Lester Piggott riding The Chase and Palacegate Jack at Haydock Park
The statue of Lester Piggott riding The Chase and Palacegate Jack at Haydock Park

Berry said: “Lester studied the horse and could read their minds. He was the greatest ever jockey.”

The now-retired Sir Anthony McCoy said: “He was my hero growing up. I don’t think there will ever be a jockey who is mentioned in the same breath as Lester Piggott.

“Lester Piggott was one of the greatest sportsmen of my time and I think will always be. Seventy years since he rode his first winner and people are still talking about it, there’s not many sportspeople like that.”

The feature event of the day is the Smarkets-sponsored Rose of Lancaster Stakes, which has attracted 16 entries, including Royal Ascot runner-up Crossed Baton.

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