Lester Piggott, legendary jockey and nine-time Derby winner, dies at the age of 86

Lester Piggott, the greatest jockey of the 20th century with a record of nine Derby winners to his name and one of the most enduring athletes of all time with a career of 46, has died at the age of 86.

Named “The Long Fellow” and compared to having a face like a “well-kept grave”, few professional athletes will ever match Piggott for his success, longevity or the narrative of his time in the chair that incorporated everything, from being a teenage riding sensation, decades at the helm, a period in prison for tax evasion and then one of the biggest returns of the sport.

In addition, he had to overcome being partially deaf. But he was born into a racing dynasty: his grandfather Ernie rode two Grand National winners, his father Kieth coached one.

At 5 feet 8 inches he was tall for a jockey in those days and maintained a weight of eight and 6 pounds, a weight that no anticipated jockey would consider acceptable in those days, with a diet of cigars and champagne.

He was also born with a healthy disregard for authority and conventions, as well as a few coaches and journalists. He was a remarkable jockey with a unique personality and while his record of 4,493 winners, including 30 national classics, speaks for itself, if the mark of a great athlete is to change the way he practices a sport, only in this sense , achieved greatness. changing the way jockeys are assembled.

When Piggott rode his first winner, The Chase at Haydock, in 1948 at the age of 12, most jockeys still hunted. But little by little Piggott shortened his stirrups until, with incredible balance, he sat on the horse’s cross with his famous “derriere” in the air. On his radio show, Noel Edmonds even had an imaginary place called Piggott’s Bottom. His style is often described as inimitable, but since then all jockeys have tried to copy it.

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