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Lester Piggott

Born on 5th November 1935, professional jockey Lester Piggott's 4,493 career wins make him one of the greatest flat racing jockeys of all time, with a style that's widely imitated in the sport today.

Now retired, Piggott's career wins include nine Epsom Derby victories. During his racing days, he was nicknamed "The Long Fellow", as he was tall for a jockey at 5ft 8ins - although he kept himself 30lbs under his natural weight. His most famous mounts included Nijinsky and Sir Ivor, which Piggott described as "the easiest to ride" of his great winners.

lester piggot

Family heritage

Born in Wantage, his family's roots as trainers and jockeys date back to the 19th century, when Lester's grandfather, Ernest Piggott, owned a racehorse stable at the Old Manor in Letcombe Regis. He rode three Grand National winners - in 1912, 1918 and 1919.

Lester's father, Keith Piggott, also owned a stable at South Bank in Lambourn, where Lester learned to ride. Winning his first flat race in 1948 at the age of only 12, he romped home on a horse called The Chase at Haydock Park.­

grand national

Housewives' favourite

In 1954, he rode his first Epsom Derby winner, Never Say Die, at the age of 18. Throughout his glittering, high-profile career of unparalleled success, Piggott, nicknamed the "housewives' favourite", took horse racing to a new legion of admirers outside its normal fan base.

In 1975, Piggott was awarded the OBE for his services to horse racing, after being crowned champion jockey 11 times during his long and illustrious career. He retired as a jockey after the 1985 flat season to rather concentrate his efforts on being a trainer.

 

Retirement

However, in 1987, aged 52, he was jailed for three years for tax fraud, serving 366 days. The sentence was the highest passed for personal tax fraud, despite his already having paid £3.9m to the Inland Revenue. Subsequently, he was stripped of his OBE.

After his release from jail, Piggott returned to riding to win his 30th Classic victory at the age of 56. His final win was in October 1994, after which he finally retired from the saddle in 1995.

Now aged 81, Piggott's hopes that his son Jamie might follow in his footsteps have been dashed. Jamie made his professional debut as a jockey aged 19 in 2013 but after a handful of races, he now works in the stables - although he rides every day.

In an interview to celebrate his 80th birthday, Piggott said he'd enjoyed a "terrific" life but he refused to be drawn on whether he was the greatest jockey ever admitting,"you hope you are."

 

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