Profile Super-jockey Lester Piggott in 1948 won his first horse race, at the age of 12. When he retired for the second time nearly 50 years later, he was the most successful and influential jockey in the history of the sport.
Piggott won 30 classics in England, including nine Derbys, a race he won for the first time on Never Say Die in 1954. His final classic victory was in 1992, when he rode Rodrigo de Triano to victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He was also very successful outside Great Britain and was probably the first jockey to jet around the world representing international owners in several countries. He won 38 classics outside Britain, including 16 in Ireland.
Piggott was not only hugely successful but also very influential in popularising the sport of horse racing, his feats bringing him the admiration of millions of fans.. He became known as the “housewives’ favourite” due to his consistency and he became champion Jockey in Britain 11 times from 1960 to 1982. He won the title eight times in a row from 1964 to 1971. In 1974 he was awarded the OBE.
At the end of the 1985 season, Lester Piggott retired and became a racehorse trainer, sending out 34 winners from his yard. However, he was arrested for tax irregularities in 1987 and sentenced to three years in prison of which he served one year and one day. He was also stripped of his OBE and almost certainly lost his chance of being knighted.
He resumed his career as a jockey in 1990 and won the prestigious Breeders Cup Mile in the United States a few days after returing to the sport. He won his last race in 1994 and hung his stirrups up for the last time in 1995 having amassed a record total of more than 5400 victories.