A look at Lester Piggott: The Gold Cup's most successful jockey

Tipsters Review - 10-Jun-2019


A look at Lester Piggott: The Gold Cup's most successful jockey

Not only is the Gold Cup the pinnacle of Royal Ascot, it’s considered by many the most prestigious British horse racing event for stayers. If like many, you fancy a punt, check-out the latest Ascot betting odds. As well as topping off day three of proceedings, better referred to as Ladies’ Day, the Gold Cup also kicks-off the first leg of Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown (followed by the Goodwood Cup in August and concluding with the Doncaster Cup in September).

Since being established in 1807, no jockey has been more successful than the legendary Lester Piggott, who won the race 11 times with eight different horses. Here we will take a look back through his wins and other successes as a jockey.

Back-to-back wins with Zarathustra (1957) and Gladness (1958)

Piggott’s first Ascot Gold Cup win was Zarathustra’s last major win but it was one that made him a household name. Interestingly, Piggott only rode the Irish-bred racehorse as stable jockey Harry Carr preferred to ride the Queen’s runner, colt Atlas. After being behind the leaders going into the straight, Zarathustra took the lead and held onto it, finishing one-and-a-half lengths ahead of Cambremer in second-place.

The following year, he rodemare Gladness to victory.

The 1960s: Pandofel (1961), Twilight Alley (1963) and Fighting Charlie (1965)

After winning the 1961 Ascot Gold Cup with Pandofel, Piggott had success again two years later with Twilight Alley. A series of health issues restricted the sire to four races in his track career, but on his third appearance, the British-thoroughbred won the Gold Cup. Going in as favourite at odds of 100/30, Twilight Alley built up a commanding lead over his six opponents and beat Misti by a length.

Piggott’s final win in the 1960s was with Fighting Charlie in 1965, a horse that would go on to win for a second successive year with Greville Starkey on the saddle.

A trio of wins with Sagaro (1975-77)

Three successive victories in the Ascot Gold Cup between the years on 1975 and 1977 saw Piggott become the first jockey since Gordon Richards in the 1940s to win hat-trick of consecutive races. Sagaro was also the first horse to manage the feat, a record that has since been surpassed by Yeats who won four races between 2006 and 2009.

Sagaro won his first Gold Cup in 1975, beating Le Bavard by four lengths; the following year was closer, with only a length between the Irish-bred stayer and second-placed Crash Course. The 1977 win was his last before being retired to the National Stud.



Le Moss (1979)

When Piggott rode Le Moss in the 1979 Ascot Gold cup, he wasn’t made favourite at odds of 7/4 – the favourite was his stable companion Buckskin. Le Moss won by seven lengths and then went on to complete the Stayers’ Triple Crown (but not jockeyed by Piggott). Le Moss retained his Gold Cup title, however.

Back-to-back wins with Ardross (1981-2)

Piggott’s final wins in the Gold Cup came in the early 1980s, both with the Irish-bred Ardross. In the 1981 race, he faced only three opponents and beat Shoot A Line by a length. The following year he was made favourite to retain his title, at odds of 1/5 and won by three lengths and a neck over French-trained horses Tipperary Fixer and El-Badr.

Away from the Gold Cup

Piggott is widely regarded as one of the greatest flat racing jockeys of all-time – and with good reason, with an incredible 4,493 career wins to his name. Away from the Gold Cup but still at Royal Ascot, he had nine wins in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (formerly the Golden Jubilee Stakes); seven wins in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and King’s Stand Stakes respectively; and plenty of wins in other events across the meeting.

Other major wins in the English Classics include nine Epsom Derby victories, eight in the St Leger Stakes and seven wins across both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas. He was British flat racing Champion Jockey 11 times between 1960 and 1982, as a result of his successes.



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