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Piggott, Lester Keith

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Piggott, Lester Keith

Born : 5 November 1935
City : Wantage, Berkshire, England
Rank : ( 1529 )
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Piggott, Lester Keith Biography

Family background and personal life

Lester Piggott was born in Wantage to a family that could trace its roots as jockeys and trainers back to the 18th century. The Piggotts were a Cheshire farming family who in the 1870s ran the Crown Inn in Nantwich for at least 40 years. Lester's grandfather Ernest (Ernie) Piggott (1878–1967) owned a racehorse stable at The Old Manor in Letcombe Regis and his father (Ernest) Keith Piggott (1904–1993) another at South Bank in Lambourn, where Lester lived until 1954.[4] Ernie Piggott rode three Grand National winners, in 1912, 1918 and 1919 and was married to a sister of the jockeys Mornington Cannon and Kempton Cannon, who both rode winners of the Derby, in 1899 and 1904 respectively. He was also three-times British jump racing Champion Jockey (in 1910, 1913 and 1915). Keith Piggott was a successful National Hunt jockey and trainer, winning the Champion Hurdle as a jockey in 1939 and the Grand National as a trainer in 1963 with Ayala, becoming the British jump racing Champion Trainer of the 1962–63 season. Lester Piggott is the cousin, through his mother Lilian Iris Rickaby, of two other jockeys, Bill and Fred Rickaby. Fred Rickaby was British flat racing Champion Apprentice in 1931 and 1932.

Career as a jockey

Piggott began racing horses from his father's stable when he was 10 years old and won his first race in 1948, aged 12 years, on a horse called The Chase at Haydock Park. A teenage sensation, he rode his first winner of the Epsom Derby on Never Say Die in 1954 aged 18 years and went on to win eight more, on Crepello (1957), St. Paddy (1960), Sir Ivor (1968), Nijinsky (1970), Roberto (1972), Empery (1976), The Minstrel (1977) and Teenoso (1983). He was stable jockey to Noel Murless and later to Vincent O'Brien and had a glittering career of unparalleled success. Known as the "housewives' favorite", Piggott had legions of followers and did much to expand the popularity of horse racing beyond its narrow, class-based origins.

Famously tall for a jockey (5 ft 8 in/1.73 m), hence his nickname of "The Long Fellow", Lester Piggott struggled to keep his weight down and for most of his career rode at little more than 8 stone (112 lb/51 kg). He pioneered a new style of race-riding that was subsequently widely adopted by colleagues at home and abroad and enabled him to become Champion Jockey eleven times.

Later career and conviction for tax evasion

Piggott retired as a jockey at the end of the 1985 flat season and became a trainer. At its peak, his Eve Lodge stables housed 97 horses and sent out 34 winners. In 1987 he was convicted of tax fraud and jailed for three years, of which he served 366 days. The following year he was stripped of his OBE (which he had been awarded in 1975) because of his conviction. Once released from jail, he resumed his career as a jockey in 1990 and won the Breeders' Cup Mile on Royal Academy within ten days of his return. He rode another Classic winner, Rodrigo de Triano, in the 1992 2000 Guineas. His last win was in October 1994 and he officially retired, this time for good, in 1995. In 2004 he published the book Lester's Derbys.

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