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Jonjo O'Neill and AP
Piggott - nine Derby wins
Piggott - nine Derby wins
Legends - Lester Piggott
21/05/04 This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lester Piggott’s first Derby winner – the birth of an Epsom legend. Fittingly, Piggott will be the guest of honour at Epsom for this year’s Vodafone Derby on June 5.

Piggott went on to establish himself as the greatest big-race jockey in British racing history and ended his career more than 40 years later with a record 30 British Classic winners, including a record nine in the Derby.
There were many other landmarks for Piggott, whose worldwide score of about 5,300 wins is a record for a jockey based in Britain.

He was British champion 11 times and notched a seasonal century on 25 occasions during his phenomenal career. But it was his brilliance around Epsom that earned him an unparalleled reputation and here we take a look back at those nine Derby victories.

1954 Piggott was just 18 when he won his first Derby aboard the 33-1 shot Never Say Die, on June 2, 1954. He was the youngest jockey to win the race during the 20th century, but his big-race temperament was no surprise to those who had watched his talent blossom since his race-riding debut at the age of 12.

1957 Still only 21, Piggott cemented the first great partnership of his career by claiming his second Derby aboard the Noel Murless-trained Crepello, having already landed the 2,000 Guineas with the colt. Piggott also scored the first of his six Oaks wins on Carozza, owned by The Queen and trained by Murless.

1960 Another Derby win for Piggott and Murless, this time with St Paddy, who went on to give Piggott the first of his eight St Leger victories. The previous year, Piggott and Murless had scored one of their most memorable successes when the great filly Petite Etoile won the Oaks.

1968 Sir Ivor’s victory marked the beginning of a golden age in the Derby’s history, dominated by Piggott and the remarkable Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien. The pair had already teamed up for Oaks success with Valoris in 1966, but Sir Ivor was the real launching pad for a remarkable Classic-winning combination. The win showed Piggott at his ice-cool best, holding up the doubtful stayer until the last possible moment.

1970 Piggott and O’Brien won again with Nijinsky, who went on to become the first horse to complete the Triple Crown since Bahram in 1935. No horse has managed the feat since. By now Piggott was regarded as the modern master of Epsom and was “the housewives’ favourite” when it came to placing Derby bets.

1972 Piggott won his sixth Derby aboard the O’Brien-trained Roberto. This was probably his greatest Derby ride as he urged Roberto to victory by a short-head over Rheingold – he later said it was “a race I had to win”, not least because he had been blamed for the late jocking-off of Bill Williamson and needed to prove he was the best man for the job.

1976 Piggott scored win number seven aboard the French-trained Empery. The success set a new record for the most Derby victories by a jockey, surpassing six-time winners Jem Robinson, in the early 19th century, and Steve Donoghue, during and after the First World War

Piggott made it eight when he teamed up with O’Brien again to score on The Minstrel. He had urged the trainer to run the horse, saying: “If you run him, I’ll ride him.” Piggott’s judgment was also spot-on in the race as his late swoop collared Hot Grove on the line for a neck success.

At the age of 47 Piggott proved he was still peerless around Epsom as he scored an incredible ninth Derby win aboard the Geoff Wragg-trained Teenoso, completing an unrivalled run of success that spanned four decades.

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