Lester Piggott

1996: Portrait of Jockey Lester Piggot of Great Britain. Phil Cole/AllsportRecognised as the finest flat racing jockey of his generation, Lester Piggott is remembered as the ultimate Epsom Derby champion, having won the race on nine occasions.

Lester Piggott was born with racing in his blood. His father, Keith Piggott enjoyed a highly successful career in national hunt racing, both as a jockey and as a Grand National winning trainer. Even Piggott’s grandfather Ernie Piggott was something of a racing legend, having won the Grand National as a jockey on three occasions.

Needless to say, Lester Piggott was exposed to horse racing from a very early age, riding his first race winner at the age of 12. The young Piggott showed his class from an early age, riding his first Epsom Derby winner, Never Say Die, in 1954.

From the time of his first Epsom Derby win Lester Piggott proved to be virtually unstoppable. The young jockey teamed up with a succession of top flat racing trainers including the legendary trainers Vincent O’Brien and Henry Cecil. Piggott won the Epsom Derby for the second time in 1957 on Crepello.

With 4,493 race wins to his name, including clean sweeps of Britain’s top Group 1 races and Classics, picking the highlights of Lester Piggott’s career is difficult. The Epsom Derby Champion not only picked up dozens of major titles, but also developed a new style of racing that won him the Champion Jockey title on 11 occasions.

With so many accolades, the one that stands out was his record in the Epsom Derby. Lester Piggott won seven more Epsom Derby winners titles following his second win in 1957, winning the race in three consecutive decades. One of his most memorable wins came in 1970 when he teamed up with one of the greatest ever thoroughbred racehorses, Nijinsky, to win the Epsom Derby.

Piggot’s performances on the turf made the Epsom Derby champion a household name in the United Kingdom and helped to increase the popularity of horseracing as sport. In 1985 Lester Piggott retired from horseracing to focus on training. His venture into training ended in disaster when he was imprisoned for tax evasion.

In 1990 Lester Piggott made a triumphant return to horseracing as a jockey, winning another Classic in 1992. Piggott retired for the second time in 1995, leaving behind a legacy in the Epsom Derby that it unlikely to be surpassed.