Legendary British jockey Lester Piggott, whose Classic haul included nine English Derby victories, has died at the age of 86.
Unquestionably one of the greatest riders of all time, Piggott rode his first winner, The Chase, at Haydock in 1948 when just 12 years of age.
His last win came with Palacegate Jack at the same Merseyside track in 1994, a few weeks short of his 59th birthday. He retired, for the final time, in 1995.
Piggot’s son-in-law, Derby-winning trainer William Haggas, told the PA news agency: “Sadly we can confirm that Lester died peacefully in Switzerland this morning.”
Crowned champion jockey 11 times, Piggott first won the Derby in 1954 aboard Never Say Die.
Eight more wins followed – including Nijinsky in 1970 – with his last Epsom hero being Teenoso in 1983.
Also successful in the 2000 Guineas, Nijinsky and Piggott went on to land the Triple Crown with his triumph in the St Leger.
A brief training career included Piggott saddling Cutting Blade to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1986.
He rode a record 116 Royal Ascot winners, with 10 of those coming in the Gold Cup.
Willie Carson and modern-day racing great Frankie Dettori have led the tributes to Piggott.
Carson and Piggott held sway on the track in the 1970s and 80s when both jockeys were in their pomp and five-time champion Carson said he felt like a part of him had died with the most iconic racing figure of the 20th century.
“I feel as though I have lost part of my life in way, as Lester has been part of my life ever since I came into racing,” said an emotional Carson.
“I came to his in-laws as an apprentice and he was part of my life right from the word go, until the end. He was an iconic figure in the horse racing world. He is a legend.
“We had the luck of some ding-dongs on the track and he was a person who made us all better – because we had to be better to beat him.
“We had to up our game to compete with him, because he was so magical on top of a horse.”
Dettori had a close relationship with Piggott through the pair’s association with the late bookmaker turned gambler and charity fund raiser Barney Curley.
Three-time champion Dettori said: “It is a shock when you hear news like that. He has been part of our lives forever really.
“Lester was a hero of mine and a good friend. The impact he has made in racing, on all of us, is second to none.
“I will always try to remember him for the good things and I offer my sincere condolences to his family and his many friends.”
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