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Legendary jockey Lester Piggott dies aged 86

Legendary jockey Lester Piggott dies aged 86: Nine-time Derby winner passes away a week after being admitted to hospital in Switzerland

  • Lester Piggott, one of the most iconic of racing figures, has died aged 86 
  • He rode his first winner, The Chase, at Haydock in 1948 when just 12 years of age
  • The former jockey was focused on winning and obsessed with being successful

Legendary jockey and nine-time Derby winner Lester Piggott has died at the age of 86.

Unquestionably one of the greatest jockeys 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 a final time in 1995.

He was previously said to be improving in hospital in Switzerland, with the hope he would return to his home next week. 

Piggot’s son-in-law, Derby-winning trainer William Haggas, said: ‘Sadly we can confirm that Lester died peacefully in Switzerland this morning. 

‘I really don’t wish to add much more than that at this stage, although Maureen will be making a statement later.’

Piggott was admitted to intensive care back in 2007 due to a recurrence of a heart problem, but made a swift recovery.

Legendary jockey and nine-time Derby winner Lester Piggott has died at the age of 86

Sir Gordon Richards may have been champion jockey more times – 26 as opposed to 11 – but Piggott will forever be remembered as a winning machine in the saddle.

Piggott who won his first race at 12 years old and went on to win 4,493 more in Britain (around 5,300 worldwide), including a record 30 Classics and nine Derbys before finally retiring when he was 57. 

Competing during an era of charismatic sporting superstars headed by motor-mouth Muhammed Ali, the Piggott legend was built around silence.

Partially deaf and with a speech impediment, to the public he was a distant and unlikely hero. He said little, at least audibly, and rarely smiled.

The Long Fellow married Susan Armstrong, daughter of Newmarket trainer Sam Armstrong, in 1960. 

At the age 54, Piggott wrote possibly the most remarkable chapter of his life by returning to the saddle and winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Vincent O’Brien’s Royal Academy 12 days after his release in front of 100,000 spectators at Belmont Park in New York. 

This is a breaking news story – more to follow.

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