The Flat jockey’s killer instinct, unique style and tremendous race record secured him a place with the all-time greats – despite a chequered personal life, writes Julian Muscat
It was a sight as distinctive as it was reassuring. When Lester Piggott was still standing bolt upright as jockeys around him crouched low into their saddles, his legion of backers would start counting their money. Never mind that there might have been another furlong left to run. Piggott’s silhouette in cruise control always told its own story. Then he would shift his weight imperceptibly and his mount, duly prompted, would gallop away to victory.
You couldn’t mistake the “Long Fellow” for anyone else. Uncommonly tall for a Flat jockey at more than 5ft 7in, Piggott developed a riding style that was all his own. He had an aquiline presence: perched high above the withers, motionless and unblinking, poised to strike with deadly effect.
That’s why Piggott held the nation in thrall, from owners and trainers right through to housewives having their annual flutter on the Derby – a race Piggott won a record nine times.