Horse Racing Biographies – Lester Piggott

Lestor Piggott - UK Champion Jockey - picture taken circa 1969. horse racing collectables

Lester Keith Piggott, who was born 5 November 1935 in Wantage, Oxfordshire, is a retired English jockey, popularly known as "The Long Fellow". He is considered to be the best of his generation and the greatest flat racing jockey of all time, with 4,493 career wins, including nine Derby victories.

Family background and personal life:

Lester Piggott is the son of Keith Piggott, who was a successful National Hunt jockey and trainer. Keith Piggott won the Champion Hurdle as a jockey in 1939 and the Grand National as a trainer in 1963 with Ayala. In that 1962-63 season he became British jump racing Champion Trainer. Lester’s grandfather, 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 Epsom Derby, in 1899 and 1904 respectively.

Piggott is married to Susan Armstrong. Her father Sam Armstrong and Robert Armstrong were both racehorse trainers. Lester and Susan have two daughters, Maureen, an ex-eventer who is married to Derby-winning trainer William Haggas, and Tracy who is a well respected sports presenter on the Irish television station RTÉ. Lester also has a son, Jamie, from a relationship with Anna Ludlow, his long-term mistress.

Jamie hopes to follow in his father’s footstep as a jockey. Away from the glare of the British racing world, Piggott’s only son made his "racetrack" debut, riding in a pony meeting in Broadford, Co Limerick. According to racing insiders, Piggott is fiercely protective of his son and whilst quietly supportive of his desire to become a jockey, won’t force him into anything. Unfortunately, it is thought that Jamie may end up too big – at over nine stone – to become a Flat jockey like his father. Instead, he may pursue a career, like his grandfather Keith, as a jump jockey. Keith won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival as a jockey in 1939 and the Grand National at Aintree as a trainer in 1963. There have been at least four generations of Piggotts who have ridden as jockeys.

His achievements:

Just over 5,300 winners in the UK & abroad
9 Derbys
3 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes.
11 Championships. 1960, 1964-71, 1981 & 1982.
30 Classic victories in England.
25 centuries between 1955 & 1984.
Wins in 27 countries outside the UK.

One of Britain’s most famous jockeys, Lester Piggott began racing horses from his father’s stable when he was ten years old and won his first race in 1948, aged twelve years, on a horse called The Chase at Haydock Park. Certainly a teenage sensation, he rode his first winner of the Epsom Derby on Never Say Die in 1954 aged eighteen years and went on to win eight more. Famously tall for a jockey, he is 5 ft 8 in/1.73 m tall, hence his nickname of "The Long Fellow". He also struggled to keep his weight down. Nevertheless, he became Champion Jockey eleven times during his fantastic career.
Piggott, who retired in 1995, tarnished his good name, and sacrificed his OBE, when he was jailed in 1987 for tax fraud. The jockey, whose fortune was estimated at £20 million, spent a year in prison.

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